MOSCOW – Croatia sensationally cemented their first ever World Cup final with a dramatic 2-1 extra time win over a gallant England side at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital on Wednesday.
A match that became a long battle between two teams displaying warrior spirit began with a Kieran Trippier free kick within the first five minutes. That goal was cancelled out by a second-half Ivan Perisic equalizer to ensure the sides were tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes.
In the end, a goal from striker Mario Mandzukic in the second half of extra time provided the agonizing difference that booked Croatia a first ever World Cup final place, in which they will meet a formidable-looking ‘Les Bleus’ at the same stadium on Sunday.
Croatia beat Russia on penalties in Sochi on July 8 to book a spot in the World Cup semi-finals, while England outclassed Sweden 2-0 the day before Croatia’s victory.
England was last at this stage in 1990, when they lost to West Germany on penalties in that famous game when midfielder Paul Gascoigne was left in tears after being booked. Croatia last made its way to the semi-finals in 1998, where it was beaten by the host-country France.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will continue until July 15, with the final set to be played at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.