WATCH | REACTION | Croatia ends England's World Cup dream

Mandzukic's goal sends Croatia into the World Cup final

BY Raf Diallo 21:35 Wednesday 11 July 2018, 21:35 11 Jul 2018

Kieran Trippier sent England into dreamland, but it was Ivan Perisic who dragged them back to earth and Mario Mandzukic who extinguished Three Lions' dreams with a flourish of his boot.

That was the story of normal time between England and Croatia as both nations vied for a place in the 2018 World Cup final where France awaits.

Joe Molloy and former Shelbourne midfielder Stuart Byrne have been keeping a watchful eye on the semi final clash throughout tonight's Off The Ball, including when the two sides went into that tense extra time period when Mandzukic made the most of careless defending to finish past Jordan Pickford.  

"Looking at the goal they conceded, they had two or three opportunities to clear that," said Stuey of the moments that cost England.

"What's happened is both goals have come from wide positions. The equaliser on 62 minutes has come from a very good ball from the right hand side and Walker's just switched off. That's not at the end of the game, that's in the 60th minute where you think that players are fresh. All of a sudden the doubt creeps in a little bit." 

He added that "sheer experience" may have been the key factor that helped Croatia see the job through.

But Stuey is optimistic that if this England side are kept together and can develop, they can make an impact at Euro 2020.

"If that group of players stay together, I think they can go one better the next time around. I certainly think they need one or two additions to that squad, particularly in midfield, somebody who can really get on the ball and get creative," he said. 

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