Croatia Reaches First-Ever World Cup Final After 2-1 Comeback Win Over England [VIDEO]
Croatia stunned soccer fans everywhere on Wednesday by reaching its first-ever FIFA World Cup final after defeating England 2-1 in extra time in Moscow, Russia.
After Kieran Trippier scored his first career goal for England just five minutes in on a spectacular free kick that curved over Croatia’s wall, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic netted goals in the second half of regulation and the second half of extra time, respectively, to put the Eastern Europeans one step closer to their first World Cup title.
England was seeking its first World Cup final appearance since 1966, the only year the Three Lions won the tournament and the year England hosted. Meanwhile, Croatia had never even qualified for the World Cup before 1998, when they reached the semi-finals.
Croatia didn’t get past the group stage in the three other World Cups it qualified for (2002, 2006, 2014). This year, they finished at the top of their group after winning their first three games. They will now face France in Sunday’s final in Moscow, while England and Belgium will play on Saturday to determine third and fourth place.
Both England and Croatia had several scoring chances throughout Wednesday’s game, and Jordan Pickford made multiple key saves for the Three Lions. However, coach Gareth Southgate’s squad was ultimately no match for a squad that boasts talented players like Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric.
Perisic scored in the 68th minute after taking a lobbed cross from Atletico Madrid defender Šime Vrsaljko. Inter Milan midfielder Perisic then beat a pair of England defenders to jump and knock the ball in past Pickford with his left foot. England reportedly argued for a high kick, but the goal ultimately counted.
Croatia’s second goal came early in the second half of extra time. In the 109th minute, After Perisic headed a ball from just outside the corner of the box with his back turned against the goal, Mandzukic collected the ball from one side and kicked it past a rushing John Stones and Pickord to draw roars from Croatian fans at Luzhniki Stadium.
Croatia are the second-smallest nation in history to reach the FIFA World Cup final after Uruguay.