England dreaming but Croatia set to provide biggest World Cup test

England dreaming but Croatia set to provide biggest World Cup test

England dreaming but Croatia set to provide biggest World Cup test

Wednesday's World Cup semifinal between Croatia and England has several intriguing subplots that provide an extra edge to an already tantalizing clash.

There's no telling how long that suspicion will last.

Croatia is the second team in World Cup history to play three straight extra-time matches at a single World Cup, joining England in 1990.

While Dejan Lovren has gotten most of the footballing attention from the Croatian defence, Vida has been more consistent for a Croatian defence that has only conceded four goals in five games.

A free kick in the fifth minute near Croatia's box gave Kieran Trippier an early goal - an arcing shot that soared over Croatia's wall, so good Croatian goalie Danijel Subasic could only shrug. "We, as a team, have made incredible progress and probably got to a stage where at the start of the tournament we would have considered a success", Southgate said.

Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more unsafe side.

And the momentum completely swung in the favour of the Croatians in the second half. And against England, that spark was Perisic.

Croatia's supporters celebrate the second goal as they watch on a giant screen the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup semifinal football match between Croatia and England, at the main square in Zagreb on July 11, 2018. Martin Peters scored the other of England's four in the final. Surely their youth and the extra rest would pay off at some point during 30 additional minutes.

Croatia had the better of the chances in the remainder of regulation, but England appeared to recover well in the first half of extra time and would have taken the lead in the 98th minute but for Vrsaljko clearing a header by John Stones off the line.

Even in penalties, you wouldn't have counted this England team out.

"They have not experienced that before playing with England and it also shows that it can be a memorable experience playing for their country".

Can Southgate now become the first manager to win a World Cup semi-final with England on foreign soil as he bids ultimately to match the achievement of Alf Ramsey's side?

"It's tough, we're gutted", he said. With the Liverpool defensive midfielder also having improved his passing game, England are creating a lot of chances. "I have to dream big", he said ahead of the game at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Vrsaljko, who plays for Atletico Madrid, had struggled to be ready for the match after playing in two previous extra-time matches, but he found the strength to lift his exhausted, battered team to a comeback win.

"They played their best, it obviously wasn't to be".

"Both teams have goals in them and it will be a fairly open game". They were a joy to watch.

Jordan Henderson was being asked to do the job of two men and it was punishing work, with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic dictating play.

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