England’s dream of making it to the final of the World Cup was dealt a huge blow following their 2-1 loss to Croatia in the semi-final on Thursday.
If there is anything that the 2018 World Cup has proven, it is that when you refuse to take your chances, you will eventually be made to pay for it.
Unfortunately, England found this out in the country’s most important game in the last three decades.
For Croatia, though, it was one for the history books, as they coasted to the final of the World Cup for the very first time.
Below are five major talking points from the game:
1. Perisic the man of the moment
Croatia’s road to that famous 2-1 win over England all started with Ivan Perisic. The Inter Milan winger had failed to glitter in the tournament thus far, leading to calls for him to be axed from the starting XI.
However, he turned on the heat in the semi-final, putting in a performance that English fans may never ever forget.
Perisic was all over the Three Lions defense, haunting and harrowing them to commit needles mistakes. And so it was no surprise that it was he who kickstarted Croatia’s comeback mission with a perfectly-timed equalizer. The Luka Modrics and Ivan Rakitics may have been the fans’ favourites, but Perisic is undoubtedly the man of the moment.
2. England perfect on set-pieces
England have built a status as the set-piece kings in the 2018 World Cup. The Three Lions have scored from a set-piece in almost every game at the tournament, no matter how organised the opposition defense is.
Against Colombia in the round of 16, Harry Kane’s goal came from a penalty and in the quarterfinal against Sweden, Harry Maguire scored the opener by heading home from an Ashley Young corner.
That posed a daunting task to Croatia as they approached the semi-final clash. But despite the solid defense of the Croats, there was nothing that Subasic could do to stop Kieran Tripper’s fifth-minute free-kick from going in. Once again it was a set-piece that gave England the goal, and it looks like they have mastered it.
3. Lack of concentration costs Three Lions
As the referee blew his final whistle after a full 120 minutes of thrilling football, England manager Gareth Southgate stood distressed trying to hide his disappointment. But, in truth, he wasn’t only disappointed, he was also very downhearted by the way his side went down.
For over an hour in the game, his charges had it all going their way…until… well….the lack of concentration set in. The equalizer from Perisic came as a result of Trippier’s hesitance.
Had the Tottenham right-back been proactive to clear the danger, England would definitely have been in the final. Add that to the fact that his club teammate Kyle Walker stood idly for Perisic – a man shorter than he his – to win a header over him, leading to Mario Mandzukic’s later winner, and you would immediately realise how England shot themselves in the foot by not concentrating for the entirety of the game.
4. Harry Kane’s failure, England’s failure
Harry Kane many not be a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but the striker has been very key for England in the 2018 World Cup. It is no coincidence that each time the 24-year-old scores, England go on to win the game.
However, against Croatia, Kane lost his usual potent instincts and, perhaps it was his first-half miss that led to England’s down fall. With the game at 1-0, the striker was played through one-on-one with Subasic, but he shot straight at the goalkeeper before hitting his rebound against the post.
Should he have scored, the score line would have been 2-0 in the first half and could probably have been game over for Croatia. But he missed, and his failure turned out to be England’s failure too.
5. Croatia deserve the final
Inasmuch as there was enough sympathy coming the way of England, there is also no doubt that Croatia were deserved winners and deserved finalists.
Zlatko Dalic’s side came into the semi-final game on the back of two grilling previous games where they were stretched into extra-time. However, they showed no signs of fatigue, played their hearts out and fought like warriors on the battle ground.
Rather than allow their circumstances to affect them, the Croatia players knew there was no excuse and played with the same spirit like they did in their opening game. Whiles the England players looked all tired during the extra-time period, their opponents continued to push until they got the winner. It was totally deserved.
Have a story to share? Send it to us on Facebook now!