England´s forward Harry Kane (L) and England´s coach Gareth Southgate react after losing the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup semi-final match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11, 2018.
Southgate said the players were deeply disappointed, but that his young team could achieve great things in the years to come, with the European Championship just two years away. He said as soon as Croatia got the upper-hand in Wednesday's semifinal, England reverted to old, inferior tactics that included hoofing the ball from defence to attack and simply hoping for the best.
France reached the final for the third time in their history on Tuesday when a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave the 1998 champions a 1-0 victory against Belgium in Saint Petersburg. "It's unlucky we couldn't bring it home for them, but hopefully there's time in the future".
England players were inconsolable at the final whistle as it began to sink in that the World Cup was not "coming home" and Balotelli appeared to revel in their misery. Harry Kane & Co. will deal with the same disappointment that felled Shearer and Platt, Gazza and Wazza, Beckham and Gerrard.
England, playing with zip and objective, looked sharp going forward as a rattled Croatia side tried to regroup, with Raheem Sterling proving a real handful but the score remained 1-0 at the break. Kevin Trippier curled in a free kick in the fifth minute.
Rakitic switched the ball from left flank to right, where Vrsaljko crossed.
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Four minutes later, Perisic hit Pickford's near post.
"We can hold our heads up high", said team Captain Harry Kane after the loss. The sound was eclipsed only by the joy that greeted Mario Mandzukic's extra-time victor and the impromptu fireworks celebration in the wake of the final whistle.
Mandzukic scored after Walker stuck out a leg to block Josip Pivaric's cross.
On both occasions, the Three Lions lost to eventual champions Germany on penalties - and their coach Gareth Southgate had been a part of England's demise in Wembley.
With beers flying, and the national anthem, amongst other patriotic songs, being sung, there was a genuine belief that England might make their first World Cup final since 1966. Choruses of "God Save the Queen" began in England's end. As it's gone on, it became clear this was a brilliant chance for us. Jesse Lingard sent an open 18-yard shot just wide in the 35th.
'We have overcome so many challenges that have haunted England in the past.
With such a youthful squad taking part in Russian Federation, there is clearly a hope that Wednesday's semi-final defeat won't be the last time that this group of players contest the latter stages of a major tournament.