Croatia into final for first time | 2018-07-12 |

Croatia into final for first time

Sports Desk     12 July, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Croatia into final for first time

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic shoots to score the winning goal of their FIFA World Cup semi-final match against England at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday night. – AFP PHOTO

After an encounter of endless thrillers, Croatia earned their rightful place in the final of FIFA World Cup 2018 with a scintillating triumph over England by 2-1 goals in the second semi-final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday night.

Croatia will now face France in the battle for the ultimate football glory in final of FIFA World Cup at the same stadium on Sunday.

Earlier on Tuesday night, France confirmed their spot in the final after a thrilling win against Belgium by 1-0 goal in the first semi-final at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

It was the sheer wizardry of Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic that saw Croatia catapulted over the English as they fired Vatrenis into the final.

England reaped the harvest of consistent offence early in the match as Kieran Tripper gave England the lead on the 5th minute. It was also his first goal for England.

He scored from free kick. Whipping the ball over the wall of men, He swirled it back down into the top right corner of the post. Croatia goalie Danijel Subasic could only watch the ball flying past him. With this goal, Trippier joined Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker as the third semi-final scorer for England.

Moments later England went for another piercing attack but this time without much success. England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford claimed a hook by Ante Rebic, and set England away for attack. Raheem Sterling skedaddled down the right after a long pass, and very nearly latched onto it, but Subasic was quick off his line to smother the attack this time.

The prime contender for golden boot of this edition of the World Cup, Harry Kane, missed a cake of an opportunity to double his side’s lead on 30th minute of the match.

Jesse Lingard slipped Kane free with a cute pass down the inside-left channel. Kane opened his body to sidefoot into the bottom right. Subasic stopped the shot but the ball broke left of the target. Now, burdened with a tight angle, Kane managed only to hit straight back at the keeper.

But Croatia equalised the score-line in the second half courtesy of a mind numbing goal by Ivan Perisic on the 68th minute.  Prior to the attack, Croatia had been turning up the pressure. Croatia midfielder Sime Vrsaljko waiting deep on the right wing, curled the ball towards the far post. Kyle Walker stooped to head clear, but Perisic nipped in from behind, and high-kicked a first-time flick into the left-hand portion of the net.

Croatia achieved the much coveted lead on the 19th minute of extra time courtesy of Mario Mandzukic. England failed to clear a high ball in the left wing. Perisic beat Trippier to a header to the left. Mandzukic met the dropping ball, and flashed an unstoppable low shot across Pickford and into the bottom right of the net.