World Cup 2018: Croatia reach first final after Mario Mandzukic extra-time winner against England

Deutsche Welle
22 Min Read

Mario Mandzukic scored the winner in the second half of extra time to lift Croatia to their first World Cup final in the country’s history. They now move on to face France in the final on Sunday.Croatia 2-1 England
(Perisic 68′, Mandzukic 109’— Trippier 5′)
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

Croatia on Wednesday qualified for their first World Cup final after dispatching England in their semifinal.

Mario Mandzukic, making his 88th appearance in a Croatia shirt, scored the deciding goal in the second half of extra time. Ivan Perisic, who set up Mandzukic’s winner, was involved in both of Croatia’s goals.

“This is a miracle. Only great teams can be as brave as we were and fight back from a goal down against teams like England,” Mandzukic said afterwards. “We’ve played our hearts out throughout the tournament. I am happy with my performances so far but I am here for the team. We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final.”

The win was Croatia’s third consecutive in extratime or penalties. Croatia defeated Denmark and Russia in penalty shootouts in the previous two knockout rounds.

Power from Perisic

Kieran Trippier gave England the lead after just five minutes when he buried a free kick from just outside the box — England’s sixth set piece goal in the tournament. But Ivan Perisic leveled the score in the second half, tapping in a Sime Vrsaljko cross from the right. The teams headed to extra time level at one.

John Stones nearly put England back ahead at the start of extra time when he connected with a corner from Kieran Trippier, but Vrsaljko headed the ball away from Croatia’s goal line.

Mandzukic did not need long after the restart to put Croatia in front. Perisic headed the ball back to him and he hit a left-footed shot first time past the diving English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

England’s loss marks the first time since 1990 that a team did not reach the World Cup final despite leading at halftime of a semifinal.

Croatia had come up short in their only other trip to the World Cup semifinals 20 years ago, losing to then-hosts France 2-1. They went on to beat the Netherlands in the third-place match.

The two teams are now set to square off in Sunday’s final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. England are to face Belgium in the third -lace match in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.

Relive all of the action as it happened below:

120′ Fulltime

120+4′ Badelj handles the ball in midfield, providing England with one last chance.

120+2′ Raktic and Alli get into it after a foul. England running out of time.

120+1′ Four minutes added on.

120′ Andrej Kramaric unleashes a shot at the end of a Croatia break, but the shot hits the side netting.

118′ Croatia substitution Milan Badelj replaces Luka Modric, a straight substitution from Zlatko Dalic.

116′ Modric plays a corner short to Perisic, who curves an effort right at Pickford. Pickford knocks the shot down and collides with Vida.

116′ Now Trippier goes to the sideline, holding his right quad. The gas tanks must be running very close to empty. England are playing with 10 men after using all of their substitutions.

115′ Croatia substitution Vedran Corluka replaces Mario Mandzukic, a defensive substitution from Zlatko Dalic. Mandzukic limps to the sideline with apparent right leg pain.

113′ Mandzukic goes down with an apparent cramp in his right calf. Maguire tries to quickly help him up so the game can continue.

112′ England substitution Jamie Vardy replaces Kyle Walker, a tactical and desperate change from Gareth Southgate.

109′ GOAL Mario Mandzukic has put Croatia in front. Perisic heads a Walker clearance on to the Juventus striker, who hits a left-footed shot first time for the goal. Croatia 2, England 1

107′ Perisic’s cross from the left is blocked out for a corner by Lingard. Rakitic plays the corner short to Brozovic, whos shot curls wide.

106′ Second half of extra time


22:16 Some more statistics from the game…

Croatia have 15 shots in the game to England’s eight. England have two shots on target — Trippier’s goal and Stone’s header in extra time. They also have the advantage in possession: 59 percent to England’s 41 percent.
Croatia has consistently passed with a success rate of 80 percent, while England’s has dropped to 73 percent.

22:15 Mandzukic visibly upset as he limps off the field. It appears, however, he may stay on for the second half of extra time.


105+3′ Halftime in extra time

105+2′ Mandzukic gets a toe to a Perisic cross from the left, but Pickford makes the save. Mandzukic is still on the ground after the two collide.

105+1′ Two minutes added on

102′ Modric plays the free kick short for Perisic. Perisic tries to cross into the box, but the service is blocked.

102′ Croatia substitution Andrej Kramaric replaces Ante Rebic, a straight substitution from Zlatko Dalic.

101′ Rashford fouls Vrsaljko on the right wing, a decent free kick opportunity for Croatia.

98′ Dier fires a shot from distance that is blocked by an oncoming Perisic. Stones connects with Trippier’s ensuing corner and Vrsaljko clears it from inside the six-yard box.

97′ England substitution Eric Dier replaces Jordan Henderson, a straight change from Gareth Southgate.

96′ Yellow card Ante Rebic goes into the book for a foul on Lingard.

95′ Croatia substitution Josip Pivaric replaces Ivan Strinic, a straight substitution from Zlatko Dalic.

93′ Strinic goes down holding his left groin. Trainers come out to tend to him.

91′ England substitution Danny Rose replaces Ashley Young, a straight substitution from Gareth Southgate.

91′ Start of extra time


21:54 Gareth Southgate will have three substitutions to work with in extra time after making just one (Rashford for Sterling) during regulation.

21:52 Zlatko Dalic has yet to make a substitution in the game, a shocking development considering his side has played to the penalty shootout in both of its knockout games. He will have four to work with in extra time.

21:50 Extra time rules: There will be two halves of 15 minutes, with stoppages added on as usual. Each team gets an extra substitution for extra time.


90+3′ End of regulation

90+2′ …no. Kane gets on the end of Trippier’s free kick, but his header bounces wide of the target.

90+1′ Rakitic fouls Lingard on the right wing. Will there be another set piece winner for England?…

90+1′ Only three minutes of stoppage time after the one substitution.

90′ Lovren receives the ball in midfield and fires from distance, but his shot flies far into the Croatia end.

87′ Kane tries to play a ball through to Lingard, but Lingard could not bring the ball under control and it rolls out for a goal kick.

84′ Rebic crosses the ball in from the right. Perisic tries to head it down for Mandzukic. Pickford comes off his line to try and punch the ball away, but the punch only goes as far as Perisic. He fires on the empty net but the ball flies over the crossbar.

83′ Mandzukic chests the ball down from Brozovic in the box, turns and fires, but Pckford makes the save.

81′ Trippier nearly plays a pass to Perisic in a dangerous position, but Walker kicks it back to Pickford just in time.

77′ Kane plays a ball through to Lingard on the right side of the penalty area. Lingard shoots across goal before it rolls out of play.

76′ Vrsaljko feeds Rebic on the right side of the penalty area. Rebic tries to set up another chance for Perisic, but Stones clears the ball away.

73′ England substitution Marcus Rashford replaces Raheem Sterling, a straight change from Gareth Southgate.

73′ Modric plays a corner short to Vrsaljko, who crosses from the right. Walker heads the ball the way before it reaches Rebic. Brozovic fires the clearance from distance over the crossbar.

72′ Nearly another for Croatia. Perisic takes the ball into the left side of the box and fires towards the back post. The ball hits the woodwork and falls to Rebic, whose shot falls harmlessly into Pickford’s arms.

68′ EQUALIZER Vrsaljko crosses from the right. Perisic gets his boot above Walker’s head to tap in a goal. Croatia 1, England 1

67′ Trippier plays Kane through on the right side of the penalty area. Kane fires from the goal line but his shot hits the side netting.

65′ Perisic fires a shot from the top of the penalty area that is blocked away by Walker. Walker has to be attended to after the play.

61′ Perisic crosses from the right and Walker heads it away. Rakitic hits the clearance first time over the bar.

57′ Trippier crosses from the right towards Kane, who tries to head the ball in on a dive. But Lovren clears the ball away before Kane can connect with the cross.

56′ Kane heads a ball down for Sterling, who taps it over to Lingard. Lingard’s shot from outside the penalty area is blocked out for a corner. Perisic clears Trippier’s ensuing corner.

54′ Yellow card Kyle Walker gets booked for preventing Croatia from taking a quick throw-in.

51′ Yellow card Mandzukic gets booked as well. Again, he will not be suspended for the final.

49′ Video assistance rescind the yellow card on Rebic.

48′ Yellow card Rebic gets booked for a foul on Walker. Rebic will not be suspended for the final if Croatia were to win as yellow cards from previous rounds are effectively wiped out in the semifinals. (See 19:23)

46′ Kickoff No substitutions by either side at halftime.


20:58 Is football coming home…?

20:55 For England, Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford could see some action in the second half. Gareth Southgate has used both players off the bench three times each. Who plays could depend on the score of the game.

20:52 Expect to see Mateo Kovacic at some point in this match. He has appeared in all five of Croatia’s World Cup games and four of his appearances have come from the bench. Andrej Kramaric and Marko Pjaca, who played for Hoffenheim and Schalke respectively this past season, could also see some action in the second half.

20:47 Some halftime statistics…

Croatia have held 53 percent of possession, England 47 percent
Croatia have out-shot England 5-4, but each team have only had one shot on target.
Croatia is passing at a slightly higher success rate than England: 80 percent vs. 77 percent
Ante Rebic leads all players with three dribbles in the first half. He also has two shots in the game, as does Ivan Perisic.
John Stones has won four aerial duels, more than any other player. Mario Mandzukic and Dejan Lovren each have won three.
Ivan Rakitic has been dispossessed twice, as has Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young.


45′ Halftime

45+1′ Strinic colides with Trippier on the left sideline for a Croatia free kick. Modric’s free kick is cleared away by Walker.

45+1′ One minute added onto the first half.

40′ Domagoj Vida is starting to hear whistles when he gets the ball. FIFA are investigating an incident where he said “glory for Ukraine” on video after Croatia’s win over Russia. FIFA do not allow political statements before, during or after matches.

37′ Sterling recieves a pass at the top of the penalty area. He turns and fires but his shot is blocked away. Trippier puts in a cross from the right that finds no one.

36′ Alli swings a pass to a wide-open Lingard at the top of the penalty area, but Wingard’s shot is wide to the right. That was a terrific opportunity for England to double their lead.

33′ Perisic plays an early cross towards Mandzukic and Rebic in the box. Young clears the ball out for a corner before Rebic can fire a shot at the far post. Modric plays the ensuing cross short to Sime Vrsaljko, who crosses from the left. Mandzukic gets on the other end of it but is called for a foul.

32′ Rebic tries to thread a ball to Perisic in the six-yard box, which Maguire clears away. Rebic jumps on the loose ball and fires towards goal, a shot Pickford knocks down for the save.

30′ Huge double chance for Kane after Jesse Lingard plays him through on the left side of the penalty area. Subasic blocks Kane’s first effort, and Kane’s follow-up lob falls out of play. The flag on the far side of the field was up, but it’s unclear who it was.

27′ Lovren tries to stop Sterling on the left wing and is called for a foul. Young plays a free kick towards the far post that Subasic punches away.

25′ Modric keeps the ball in play on the near sideline. Rebic picks up the loose ball and breaks forward on the right. He tries to play an early cross for Mandzukic in the middle, but the ball flies straight to Jordan Pickford in England’s goal.

23′ Perisic receives the ball in midfield and breaks forward quickly. He fires a shot from outside the box that falls wide left.

22′ Ivan Strinic kicks a pass from Danijel Subasic straight at Raheem Sterling. He dribbles forwards with the ball before trying to thread Kane through, but Kane is called for offside.

21′ Dejan Lovren shoves Harry Kane before the England captain can break forward with the ball.

21′ Ante Rebic holds off a challenge from Jordan Henderson while dribbling into the middle. He fires a shot from outside the area that is blocked by Stones.

19′ Persic receives the ball on a switch on the left and pulls a shot wide left from outside the box.

18′ Ivan Perisic tries to chest a ball down from Modric at the top of the penalty area, but it is cleared by John Stones. Not much success going forward by Croatia thus far.

15′ Croatia have not unleashed a shot in the first quarter of an hour of the contest. England have fired two, one of which was on target (Trippier’s goal).

14′ Maguire gets on the other end of another corner (this time from Trippier), but his header falls just wide of the right post.

12′ Marcelo Brozovic kicks the ball out for a corner, but pleads with the referee for a foul on Alli. Maguire heads a corner from Young over the crossbar, but gets called for a foul.

9′ Young clears a cross from the left out for a corner. Mandzukic gets a head to Modric’s corner, but the ball is eventually cleared away by Harry Maguire.

8′ England retreat to a 5-3-2 formation with the early lead, with Trippier and Ashley Young retreating into defense.

5′ GOAL Kieran Trippier curls a free kick over Croatia’s wall and past Danijel Subasic. The goal was Trippier’s first in an England shirt. Croatia 0, England 1

4′ Dele Alli bursts forward before being taken down from behind by Luka Modric near the penalty area — a great free kick opportunity for England. Ashley Young and Kieran Trippier are standing over the ball.

3′ Mario Mandzukic is called for a foul on Jordan Henderson, the first of the game.

1′ Kickoff


19:59 England kickoff the ball first, playing in their white jerseys and playing from right to left. Croatia are playing in their alternate black jerseys.

19:33 This might be the last chance for this generation of Croatian players to win a World Cup. Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Danijel Subasic are all in their 30s and may be on the decline by the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

19:23 Yellow card rule: All players’ yellow card records are effectively wiped clean in the semifinals with the new yellow card rules. That means, effectively, players who picked up yellow cards earlier in the tournament will not be suspended for the final if they are shown yellow. Players who are sent off will be suspended for the final.

This is great news for Croatia in particular. A dozen of their players, including eight in their starting lineup this evening, have been booked.

19:18 Nine different players in Croatia’s squad at this World Cup. Luka Modric, who has scored three goals in the tournament, is the only Croatian to score more than once.

19:15 With 11 goals, England is currently tied for second with Russia for the most goals in the tournament — Belgium have scored the most with 14. However, only three of England’s 11 goals have come from open play. Five have come from set pieces and three have come from the penalty spot.

19:00 Zlatko Dalic makes one change to his Croatia side that beat Russia, replacing forward Andrej Kramaric with midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, has stuck with the same England lineup that defeated Sweden in the quarterfinals.

18:53 Here are the lineups for this evening’s contest…

18:38 It all comes down to this. Croatia and England are squaring off to see who will take on France in the World Cup final. Croatia is coming off two consecutive penalty shootout wins — one against Denmark in the last 16 and one against Russia in the quarterfinals. England, who are participating in their first World Cup semifinals since 1990, beat Sweden in the quarterfinals to reach this stage.

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