Croatia will play France in the World Cup final after they beat England 2-1 in extra-time on Wednesday thanks to a Mario Mandzukic goal in the second period of extra-time. Kieran Trippier’s free-kick after five minutes gave England a dream start to the semi-final but Croatia clawed their way back into the match and Ivan Perisic equalised with a 68th-minute volley. Mandzukic was fastest to react to Perisic’s header and shot past Jordan Pickford in the 109th minute to decide the game in the Luzhniki Stadium and send Croatia into their first ever World Cup final. Get highlights of Croatia vs England, FIFA World Cup 2018 semi-final, here.
( FULL FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 COVERAGE)
2:20 AM IST: That’s it from our side, thank you so much for joining us! Do join us for our coverage of the third place play-off and the final. Until then, goodnight and goodbye!
2:15 AM IST: Heartbreak for England fans, but it’s hard to argue that Croatia didn’t deserve it more. They showed up when it mattered the most and England did not look at ease after Croatia equalised. France vs Croatia is the final we shall have. Belgium will play England in the third place play-off a day before the final.
2:06 AM IST: Full-time and Croatia have entered the final for the first time in their history! This is unbelievable!
1:57 AM IST: At this point, it seems highly unlikely that it is coming home; England though, are going home. A third place play-off awaits against Belgium at this rate.
1:51 AM IST: GOAAAAL! Mario Mandzukic puts Croatia in front! Is this the winner?! What a time to score!
1:45 AM IST: Half-time of extra-time and the scoreline remains level.
1:38 AM IST: There has been about as much action in the game as watching paint dry. Hopefully the shoot-out is good at least…
1:30 AM IST: Neither side are taking too many risks at this point. Although given that Croatia have won successive penalty shoot-outs en route to the semis, they’d probably fancy their chances more than England would should it come down to that.
1:25 AM IST: The first half of extra-time is underway! Can either of these sides find a winner now or are we destined for another shoot-out? We shall find out.
1:21 AM IST: Full time and these sides can’t be separated. Extra time it is.
1:14 AM IST: The game is nearing the end of regulation time and neither side look close to finding an equaliser. Extra time looms…
1:08 AM IST: England are finally showing signs of life but the final ball is sorely lacking at thus point.
1:03 AM IST: The goal has awakened the same Croatian legs that seemed stiff as lead before. Suddenly the adrenaline rush has made them look so much more dangerous.
12:55 AM IST: GOAAAAL! Perisic has equalised from a wonderful header! That came from out of nowhere!
12:48 AM IST: The game continues to be a slow one. Not that England fans will complain.
12:40 AM IST: The half has started in a somewhat sluggish manner. Croatia are playing exactly how you would expect a side that are burdened by the fatigue of playing back-to-back games that didn’t finish in normal time. England are happy so sit back and defend.
12:33 AM IST: The second half is underway. A second goal for England will see them all but seal the game. Croatia need a goal soon.
12:18 AM IST: The referee blows his whistle and England go into the break with a lead. A slender lead, but they are ahead nevertheless. Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick the difference between the two sides. Can Croatia make a comeback in the 2nd half? We shall find out in a few.
12:08 AM IST: The game has slowed down in tempo, but the scoreline remains unaffected. That will undoubtedly please England fans.
11:59 PM IST: Kane misses a sitter! He is released free and his initial shot is saved but the rebound shot from close range hits the post! My word, that is too easy a chance to miss.
11:50 PM IST: England could have had second after Croatia give away the ball near their penalty area but Kane is flagged offside. Croatia are playing well but lack the final touch.
11:44 PM IST: England have played positive football since the goal. They look untouchable on set pieces; another corner floated in by Trippier sees Maguire meet it but it goes just wide.
11:36 PM IST: GOAAAAAAAL! Kieran Trippier gives England the lead with a fabulous free-kick! That is some way to open your account in the tournament!
11:30 PM IST: The players emerge from the tunnel and belt out their national anthems with pride. Nerves are undoubtedly running high among the players and on the dugouts. But no time for that now. The referee has blown his whistle and we are underway in Moscow!
11:20 PM IST: For many of Croatia’s top players like Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, 2018 will likely be the last chance they have of lifting the trophy.
11:10 PM IST: The battle today will be won in midfield. Croatia’s trio in the middle is a solid one. For England, Henderson will have to put in a major shift tonight; he will also require plenty of assistance from Lingard and Alli.
11:00 PM IST: Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic makes one change to the team that beat hosts Russia on penalties in the quarter-finals, with Andrej Kramaric making way for Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. England are unchanged.
10:50 PM IST: Croatia starting XI - Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic; Ante Rebic, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic.
England starting XI – Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane.
10:40 PM IST: Hello and welcome to live coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2018 semi-final between Croatia and England!
Croatia’s 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage was a clear signal that the team led by midfield maestro Luka Modric was a real threat with their clever passing and movement.
In their quarter-final clash with Russia, the Croats showed a different side, being willing to slug it out with the Russians for 120 minutes before keeping their cool and winning the shootout in such a partisan atmosphere.
England made an early impression with a 6-1 crushing of Panama in the group stage and then overcame their shootout hoodoo in beating Colombia in the last 16 and looked composed and mature in the 2-0 quarter-final victory over Sweden.