Mario Mandzukic proved the hero as Croatia came from behind to defeat England 2-1 after extra time in the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup at the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow on Wednesday.
Mandzukic scored the decisive goal in the second half of extra time to seal a first ever appearance at the world cup final for Croatia..
— ACLSports (@acl_sports) July 11, 2018
Croatia will battle France in Sunday’s final, becoming the smallest nation to reach a World Cup Final since South Americans, Uruguay in 1950.
“We started slowly, but we have shown our character just like in the previous two knockout rounds when we were one goal down in both matches,” man of the match, Ivan Perisic said moments after the game.
It was a quick-fire start to the game from England, who needed just five minutes to take the lead after a brilliant free kick by Kieran Trippier, who limped off injured late in the game.
Despite Croatia’s dominance on the ball, England went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.
Croatia, however, struck back after the break as Perisic stole in to level scores, stylishly tucking home a superb Sime Vrsaljko cross eight minutes after the hour mark.
Five minutes later, Perisic almost put Croatia ahead, but his effort came off the post, with teammate, Ante Rebic, failing to convert the rebound, shooting straight at Jordan Pickford.
The game remained 1-1, with nothing else to separate both teams after 90minutes, taking the game into extra time, the third time Croatia would be involved in one in the competition.
After a barren opening 15 minutes in extra time, Mandzukic latched on to a loss of concentration from the England defense to give Croatia 2-1 up, off a loose Perisic header.
An historic goal it was as Croatia held on to become not just the smallest nation to play in the final, but the 13th different country to achieve the feat.