England manager Gareth Southgate reflects on World Cup exit

Peter Crouch celebrates after pulling England level

Peter Crouch celebrates after pulling England level

Croatia was supposed to be a exhausted team coming into the match. The whole thing is beyond where we thought we might go. But if anything, the grueling lead-up to the clash against England solidified Croatia's mental toughness, which served the Croats well on Wednesday.

England had got off to a flying start when Trippier curled a superb free kick into the top corner in the opening minutes.

But the success of Southgate's side, with England reaching their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, brought a feel good vibe to the country.

The Three Lions managed their 1-0 lead for more than an hour of playing time. But then everything went to waste when Mandžukić in the second half of injury time. But Croatia clawed their way back into the match and equalized in the 68th minute when Ivan Perisic beat Kyle Walker to Sime Vrsaljko's cross and finished past Jordan Pickford.

Last week, the Croatian soccer federation was hit with a $70K fine after its players were seen drinking "non-authorized beverage products" during Croatia's Round of 16 meeting with Denmark.

The 1-1 score held as the match went into extra time. In the 109th minute, Perisic struck again.

Mario Mandzukic of Croatia scores the winning goal against England in Moscow. They now have the chance to avenge that loss and become the ninth nation to win a World Cup final.

Prince William's heartfelt message to England squad after World Cup dreams end
He added: "It's time now to hold our heads high as a nation and be proud of each other". It has a slightly different feel for me, but it's nice to hear people enjoying it again.

Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli all performed admirably throughout the tournament but England's semi-final defeat highlighted the need for a world-class midfield schemer in the mould of Modric and more creativity in the middle of the park. But this English team won't be returning from Russian Federation with the proverbial tail between the legs.

"They'll be the best team we've played in terms of what they're capable of doing with the ball, and what their individuals are capable of, definitely", he said (via Sky Sports). It's been a fantastic journey.

Lovren played alongside Sterling for a season at Anfield and he bore the expression of someone who had been skinned by him once or twice before in training when he was beaten in a footrace by the touchline before ultimately committing a foul on England's No.10.

One said: "In tears that England are out".

"England have reason to cry because they were so close to [reaching the World Cup final], but they have also have reason to be optimistic", Manchester United boss Mourinho told RT.

Cars and vans drove through the streets with Croatian flags stretched tightly across their bonnets, honking their horns at each other as workers clocked out for the day early and headed home to watch the game. And work apparently is not a problem for a team that made history Wednesday with its grit and effort and mental strength.

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