Croatia today became the 13th country to join the exclusive league of countries that have qualified for the finals of football’s biggest tournament, courtesy of a second-half extra-time goal by Mario Mandzukic.
Its been 20 years since Croatia first made their debut at France 1998 where they reached the semifinals of the tournament, led by former captain and the current president of the Croatian Football Federation, Davor Suker.
Suker was present tonight in the Luzhniki Stadium another golden generation of players led by Luka Modric achieved what the 1998 team narrowly missed as they booked a spot to go against France in the finals of Russia 2018, the same team that beat them 20 years ago in the semifinals
England Started the game brilliantly as and got their first goal in the first 5 minutes of the game. Dele Alli was brought down at the edge of the 18-yard box by Luka Modric. Kieran Trippier stepped up to take the kick and fired a perfectly executed shot which Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic could do absolutely nothing about it.
The Croatians tried everything that they could to get back the equaliser that the desired but they lacked the spark to cause danger for the English team which lead the match at halftime.
The second half began and Croatia continued to press for an equaliser and it came in the 68th minute courtesy of Ivan Perisic who connected with a cross by Sime Vrsaljko. The game was bound for extra time as none of the teams could score the winning goal in normal time. England had only managed one shot on target throughout the match.
Extra came and both teams continued to push for victory and it came for Croatia in the second half of extra time. The English defence lost concentration for a second and Mario Mandzukic capitalized on the loose ball and fired his shot to score and put Croatia in front with just 11 mins of extra time.
The Croatians held on to their lead till the end of the game and thus, wrote their names on the sands of time, Croatia have qualified for the finals of a world cup tournament.
England on their own will feel devastated not being able to reach the finals since the last time they did and won the competition in 1966. Gary Southgate’s men were the favourites to win the match and book a place in the finals to play against France. They will now have to try again in Qatar 2022.
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