World Cup: Croatia 2 England 1 - 5 things you need to know

 Croatia's Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and team mates celebrate after the match.
Croatia's Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and team mates celebrate after the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

Croatia will meet France in the 2018 World Cup final after a come-from-behind victory over England in the semi-final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Although the Three Lions took the lead with a fantastic Kieran Trippier free-kick just five minutes in, the Vatreni showed grit to fight back with goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic to win the match after extra-time.

1. Goals

Croatia (Ivan Perisic 68th minute, Mario Mandzukic 109th) England (Kieran Trippier 5th)

2. The wow moment

Not since 2006, when David Beckham curled home a free-kick against Ecuador in Germany, has the Three Lions scored from a dead ball. But it took just five minutes into the semi-final for Trippier to write his name on the score sheet. His free-kick was curled perfectly into the net from 25m out, leaving Danijel Subasic comprehensively beaten.

3. The talking point

After taking an early lead, England mustered just one more effort on target through John Stones' 98th min header. Dangerman Harry Kane was effectively snuffed out as little service reached him. And England simply trailed off in the second half when it had just 30 per cent of the ball while Croatia cranked up their game. Perisic's equaliser was all about desire as he charged past Kyle Walker to stab home and Mandzukic punished a dozing Stones by sneaking ahead to slot home the winner.

4. The star

Perisic tormented England repeatedly after the break as he kept driving at the left flank, keeping Trippier and Walker busy. His stepovers, pace, precise passes, shooting and most of all, his immense hunger kept him going and going until the breakthrough was made. Not only did he equalise with a brave piece of finishing, he took full advantage of Walker's poor headed clearance to flick a header on for Mandzukic to swoop in and send Croatia to the final.

5. What the result means

In the 1998 semi-final, two Lilian Thuram goals won the match for France and that was the furthest the Vatreni had gone in the World Cup. The 2018 vintage will get their chance to avenge that loss but they had been pushed to the limit with all three of their knockout games going into extra-time. Only this win against England did not go to penalties but Zlatko Dalic's men can look back at some impressive performances, most notably the 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage, and draw inspiration from it. As for England, their challenge faded badly after taking the lead in the semi-final and in the end, they simply could not compete against a hungrier Croatia team. But Gareth Southgate deserves immense credit for restoring pride as he rehabilitated one of football's greatest underachievers. England now play with little or no stage fright and the team is free of the inter-club rivalries that plagued the Three Lions in the past. The future does indeed look bright for them. Football did not go home but it might one day.