England and Croatia needed more than 90 minutes today to decide who would advance to take on France in the World Cup Final. It marked the third straight game that Croatia needed extra time to determine a winner and once again, they came out on top.
The Croatians had never reached a World Cup Final until now, whereas their upcoming opponent, France, most recently made a finals appearance in 2006 and won it all in 1998. The final will take place this Sunday at 11:00am ET. The third place play-f between England and Belgium is scheduled for Saturday at 10:00am ET.
Here’s how today’s thrilling semifinal played out:
England got on the board early, scoring just five minutes into the match f a gorgeous set piece by Kieran Trippier.
England maintained a 1-0 lead for over an hour until Croatia’s Sime Virsajko served a cross from the right in the 68th minute. Ivan Perisic ran around both Trippier and a diving Kyle Walker to deflect the ball into the back the net with his left foot.
Mere moments after the equalizer, Perisic had a chance to give Croatia a 2-1 lead but his shot bounced f the far post keeping things level at 1-1.
Halfway through the first 15-minute overtime, England’s John Stones looked to give his squad a crucial 2-1 lead f a corner kick, but Vrsaljko stood tall on the goal line to redirect the header away from goal.
Croatia’s best opportunity the first OT came in the 105th minute. However, England’s goalie Jordan Pickford was up to the task, sending the game to the final 15-minute overtime with everything knotted at 1-1.
Croatia finally broke the tie early in the second overtime, when Mario Mandzukic got behind the defense and buried a left-footer from inside the six-yard box for the game-winner.