Croatia tops England in extra time to reach World Cup final

Kyle Walker was forced to pass through the “forfeit tunnel” that is part of England’s training routine

Croatia will now face France in the final of the World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, on the 15th July.

The Croats" "golden generation' then took a 1-0 lead over hosts France at Paris' Stade de France early in the second half with Suker's fifth goal of the tournament but Lilian Thuram scored twice - his only worldwide goals - to carry the home nation to a comeback victory and a spot in the final.

But Croatia rallied and gave England's back three more of an examination upon the start of the second period, eventually restoring parity - Ivan Perisic providing a clever finish in the 68th minute.

A late Croatia onslaught was unable to complete the turnaround and England stepped things up again in extra-time, nearly retaking the lead when John Stones had a header cleared off the line by Vrsaljko in the 98th minute.

England could have gone 2-1 up nine minute into extra time but Vrsaljko leaped to head away John Stones' header.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic believes victory over England on Wednesday would spark the biggest party in the country's short history.

England has not appeared in a World Cup last four since going out to West Germany in a penalty shoot-out at Italia 90, while Croatia have matched the team of 1998, who reached the semifinals on the nation's World Cup debut following independence in 1991. The two teams last played in September 2009, when England defeated Croatia 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier.

Defender Kyle Walker put his body on the line to block a goal-bound shot midway through the second half, taking the full force of a rasping drive just below the waist-line. Walker attempted to clear diving header but Perisic jumped and from behind raised his left boot over Walker's head to poke the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from about 8 yards.

With England barely clinging on in the latter stages, Jordan Pickford saved a shot from Mario Mandzukic.

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Perisic should have added another three minutes later when ragged defending presented him with a great shooting chance but he cannoned the ball against a post.

Croatia were stunned, and Ivan Rakitic, usually so accomplished, was especially off his game.

Neither team came to Russian Federation being heralded as favourites but they have produced performances throughout the competition which have shown they were underestimated by the pundits.

England made it through the semi-finals with a penalty kick win over Colombia in the last 16 and a 2-0 win over Sweden last time out in the quarter-finals.

Stat chat Croatia, with just four million people, will be the smallest country by population to play in a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950. Kieran Trippier has given England a 1-0 lead with a fifth-minute free kick in the World Cup semifinal against Croatia.

England went ahead with its ninth set-piece goal of the tournament, after Luca Modric tripped Dele Alli, giving England a free kick about 25 yards out in the centre of the field.

England had got off to a flying start when Trippier curled a superb free-kick into the top corner.

Croatia will need to stop Kane if they are to have any hope of winning the game.

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