Historic extra-time victory takes Croatia into its first-ever FIFA World Cup final

|Thu Jul 12 03:15:41 IST 2018
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A goal in the 109th minute by Mario Mandzukic helped Croatia book its first-ever World Cup final spot after defeating England 2-1 in the second semi-final. England’s dream of taking the crown home came to an end after the English defence was caught sleeping to allow Mandzukic to score the vital goal in the 19th minute of the extra time.

It was England that took the lead in the very fifth-minute of the match when Kieran Trippier converted a free-kick with sublime precision to score his first-ever International goal. Croatia only made a come-back in the 68th minute when Ivan Perisic equalised from a Vrsakjko pass after England failed to convert numerous chances into any further goal in the first half of the match. Vrsaljko, allowed with some space, made a pin-point delivery into the box which Perisic converted into a goal with a calm finish. Perisic almost scored another, but his shot hit the pole and the final scoreline remained 2-1 in favour of Croatia after 30 minutes of extra-time were done and dusted.

England became only the second team to lose a World Cup semi-final after being ahead in the first half after Italy, who were defeated by Argentina in the penalty shootouts way back in 1990.

In a closely fought battle, Croatia displayed the clinical edge and emerged as the winners. Croatia will now face France in the final of FIFA World Cup 2018 on Sunday and England, who played above expectations in this edition, will settle for a third-place playoff against Belgium to be played on Saturday.

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