11 July 2019 – One year ago today Croatia recorded the biggest victory in its history when they beat England to reach the World Cup Final.
Croatia advanced to an historic World Cup Final for the first time in its history after a dramatic extra-time win over England in Moscow. Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic were the toast of the nation after guiding Croatia into the final. There were wild scenes around the country with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets after the match to celebrate.
More than 10,000 Croatian fans arrived in Moscow for a chance to see their nation in the World Cup semi-final and it was worth the trip as the nation created history.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic made one change from the side which beat Russia in the quarterfinal with Marcelo Brozovic coming in for Andrej Kramaric. Croatia got off to the worst possible start when in just the 5th minute Kieran Trippier curled in a free kick to the top right corner from just outside the box to give England a 1-0 lead.
After a nervous opening quarter from Croatia, their first serious attempt on goal came in the 18th minute when Ivan Perisic cut inside from the left and fired from outside the box only for it to go just wide.The much younger, faster and less fatigued looking England side continued to cause Croatia problems going forward and also doubled their lead but a great Danijel Subasic save kept it at 1-0.
Croatia’s best chance of the half came in the 31st minute when Modric squared back to Rebic inside the box but his left foot shot was saved by Pickford. Two minutes later and it was Rebic again in the action but he just failed to connect to a cross from Perisic on the left.
Croatia had 45 minutes to keep their World Cup dream alive but with Modric well contained, and Strinic and Vrsaljko forced into playing long balls, an equaliser look like it would be hard to come by. England had a good chance to double their lead in the 62nd minute but Raheem Stirling was disposed inside the six-yard box.
At the other end, Perisic had a shot on target blocked by Kyle Walker but it two minutes later there was no stopping Perisic as he volleyed volleyd home a cross from Vrsaljko on the right.
Perisic almost put Croatia ahead a few minutes later but his left foot shot from inside the box crashed against the post and agonisingly bounced out. Croatia started to enjoy their best period of the match, dictating play and controlling possession.
Perisic came close again and Mandzukic had a shot saved by Pickford as Croatia pressed for the winner but it wasn’t to come and the game headed into extra-time. Stones for England came close in the first period when his header from a corner was headed off the line from Vrsaljko but Mandzukic would have the chance of the first period but Pickford brilliantly saved from close-range after the Juventus striker met Perisic’s cross.
Mario Mandzukic became Croatia’s hero when he put Croatia in front with 11 minutes to go after a great through ball from Pivaric and sent Croatia into the World Cup Final.
CROATIA 2-1 ENGLAND (aet)
World Cup, Semi-Final
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
GOALS: Trippier 5′, Perisic 68′, Mandzukic 109′
CROATIA: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Strinic (Pivaric), Brozovic, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, Rebic (Kramaric 100′), Mandzukic
ENGLAND: Pickford – Walker, Stones, Maguire; Trippier, Lingard, Henderson, Alli, Young; Kane, Sterling