BREAKING NEWS: Croatia powers to first World Cup final with dramatic extra-time win over England

By Henry Bushnell on July 11, 2018

Views: 525

Croatia, a country of just over 4 million people, advanced to its first-ever World Cup final with a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory over the English on Wednesday. Mario Mandzukic’s predatory 109th-minute goal booked a date with France in Sunday’s final:

England had gone ahead early, but lost control of the match in the second half. It then lost it in the 30 added minutes, when it theoretically should have been superior.

Croatia, after all, had played 330 minutes of soccer over the past 11 days when the teams trudged off the field in Moscow to prepare for extra time. It had looked gassed four days earlier after 120 minutes against Russia. On Wednesday, it became the second team in World Cup history to play three consecutive games of more than 90 minutes.

But somehow, the Croats kept going. Kept battling. Kept pushing themselves to and past their limits. Luka Modric was relentless. Ivan Perisic was ruthless. Mandzukic was brave and valiant, then heroic.

And as a result, Croatia is the first team in World Cup history to win three consecutive games of more than 90 minutes. It also became the second-smallest nation to ever make the World Cup final. And based on its second-half performance, it deserved every bit of the most famous win in its brief history.

England entered the game having scored seven of its 11 World Cup goals directly or indirectly from free kicks and corners. Less than five minutes into Wednesday’s game, Kieran Trippier made it eight of 12, and lifted his nation into a premature dreamland.

Trippier sent a delicate free kick spinning over the Croatian wall and into the back of the net:

England has been tremendous on set pieces because it has put a tremendous amount of time and energy into set pieces. And Trippier’s goal was no exception. The location of England players in and around the wall was all part of the plan. They helped screen Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. They were the reason Subasic didn’t see the ball until it was up and over the wall – the reason his incomplete dive got nowhere close to Trippier’s shot.

But the goal wasn’t just about the set piece itself. It was about the midfield connection that won the free kick.

Source Daily Sports

Posted July 11, 2018

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