Super Mario Mandzukic scored in the 109th minute to send Croatia to their first-ever World Cup final. This feat eclipsed that of their first ever participation in 1998 when the nation of about 4.5million people got to the semi-final of the World cup, they lost to the host and eventual winners France.The present head of Croatian Football, Davor Suker was the chief strategist that masterminded the Croatian feat exactly twenty years ago.
In an interview their President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović promised that she would be back to watch the final match in Moscow on Sunday and her wish has been granted. The Luka Modric-captained side have surpassed expectation and have booked a final place at the FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 IN RUSSIA
The chess game
England drew first blood with Kieran Trippier scoring in the first five minutes of the match with a well taken free kick after Modric was adjudged and rightfully so to have clipped Dele Alli’s heels. England were clearly the better team in the first half and for misses from Sterling and Kane they could have scored the second goal which would have broken the resolve of the Eastern European team.
Enter the second stanza and the Croatian team took control. The crosses were increasingly frequent and dangerous and it was one of these that led to Ivan Perisic’s equaliser. Dele Alli was waiting to head the ball but Perisic’s kungu/karate kick changed the direction of the ball and keeper Pickford was left stranded as the Croats effectively cancelled the deficit.
Both sides looked for that extra gear during extra-time and it was Croatia who came away with the winning goal. Super Mario Mandzukic lashed unto a backward header and side foot to beat the English Keeper. The 3 Lions tried everything in their Arsenal to level proceedings but all to no avail . Croatia ran away as 2-1 winners. This is the third time (Denmark, Russia and England have been their victims) on the bounce that Croatia have managed to win a match after it went into extra-time.
They will face their nemesis at the semi-final stage at FRANCE 1998, Les Blues. who have been imperiously effective during this world cup. The final match will come up on Sunday at the Luznikhi stadium in Moscow. While England will engage Belgium in the Losers’ final on Saturday.