Croatia managed to secure a World Cup final berth for the first time in their history after they clinched a 2-1 comeback win over England. The Three Lions took an early fifth-minute lead after wonderful free-kick from Kieran Trippier and they went into the break with the advantage after restricting Croatia to attempts from outside the box.
However, as the game went on, Croatia became a greater force upfront and Ivan Perisic managed to level the scores in the 68th minute of the game. With the match heading into added extra-time, there were signs that Croatia could fancy another penalty shoot-out but Mario Mandzukic was on guard to score the match winner in the 109th minute.
Two things we learned:
The fitness of the Croatian players: With Croatia having required penalty shoot-outs to beat Denmark and Russia in the knockout stage, there had been concerns placed over their fitness heading into the Three Lions game. However, the Croatian players did not show any drop in performance levels during the semi-final and it could be said that Dalic’s side were the most active side from the second-half as they sought to create history. Croatia have now become the first side ever to play through 120 minutes in three straight knockout matches at a World Cup.
Perisic delivers at the big stage: Ivan Perisic was hugely disappointed during the Euro 2016 in France where he could not help his team progress beyond the round of 16 stage. However, at the World Cup, the 29-year-old has been lively on the left side of the attack and he contributed a goal and an assist in Croatia’s surprise triumph over the Three Lions. Perisic now has four goals for his country at the World Cup and this sees him only behind Davor Suker, who previously netted six times for the golden generation in 1998. Perisic bagged the man-of-the-match accolade in the victory over England.
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