BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
For England, its mission impossible as Croatia rose from a goal down to win 2-1, a hard fought semi-final battle that dragged into extra time at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
The fairy tale of Croatia is further dragged into the extreme. Great Croats! They wiped off the tears of 20 years ago when they lost a goal advantage and eventually lost 1-2 to France at the France ’98 World Cup semi-finals.
The reverse has now been the case for them. They go into the final for a repeat encounter with France in the France ’98 semi-final.
For England, the “It’s Coming Home” slogan has come to an abrupt end. They will now play the consolatory classification match with Belgium on Saturday while Croatia and France clash for the main title on Sunday in Moscow.
If Croatia wins, then the number of World Cup winners will increase by one.
The semi-final match had opened with the probability of England winning as Kieran Trippier opens scoring with free kick after five minutes. For England, that appears to be the end of the game.
They switched off! They had couple of chances in the first half that were not utilized. They were to rue those chances later in the second half as Ivan Perisic levelled in the 67th minute.
At about that time, the Croats became stronger and pressing harder as England appears bereft of ideas.
They were probably playing for another penalty shoot-out that was not to be. After a tense first period of the extra time, Mario Mandzukic then broke England hearts in the 109th minute.