Croatia saw off England to secure a 2-1 win (aet) and advance to the World Cup final.
Ger McCarthy looks at the winners and losers from the night.
A country with a population of roughly 4 million people and that only became an independent state in 1991 has reached the World Cup final. A remarkable story made all the more unbelievable when you consider Croatia’s first taste of a major international tournament came at Euro 96 in England.
Against the backdrop of political unrest, what a proud moment it will be for such a young, football-mad country to take the field in Moscow next weekend.
The Inter Milan player is reportedly coveted by Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and it easy to see why following such an influential display in Croatia’s victory. Perisic demonstrated his finishing ability by brilliantly turning in Sime Vrsaljko’s cross to level the score.
A threat whenever in possession, Perisic struck an upright before reacting quickest to a poor English clearance and setting up Mario Mandzukic for his country’s winner.
The 27-year-old made the Tottenham Hotspur wing-back position his own this past season and carried his Premier League form into the World Cup. Trippier’s set-piece delivery has proven one of England’s most potent attacking weapons in Russia.
Croatia 0-1 England - England take the lead after just five minutes as Kieran Trippier scores his first ever international goal. #rtesoccer #worldcup #CRO #ENG pic.twitter.com/PpFHB1SE0E— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 11, 2018
The Bury native picked the perfect moment to score his first international goal, expertly curling a free-kick into the top corner from the edge of penalty area. Trippier has been one of England’s standout players over the past month.
Despite the defeat, Gareth Southgate has come a long way for a man that was only promoted to the England manager’s job because a newspaper sting removed Sam Allardyce from the position.
Against the backdrop of FA indifference, Brexit instability and a glorious history of failures at previous competitions, Southgate bucked the trend of his predecessors and achieved much in a short period of time.
Waistcoats aside, Southgate deserves credit for the sensible, low-key manner in which he prepared his squad, dealt with the media but ultimately failed to guide England to a first World Cup final appearance since 1966.
England will never have a better chance of winning a World Cup.
Former international, Vukojevic, was sacked as Croatia’s coaching staff assistant for publishing a video on social media with defender Domagoj Vida two days before the World Cup semi-final.
The politically-charged “Glory to Ukraine” statement mentioned in the video was enough for Ognjen Vukojevic to lose his job. Since then, the Ukraine football federation has stepped in, offered Vukojevic full-time employment and to pay the FIFA-imposed fine.