Football is staying out for a while longer. After a 2018 World Cup that was exciting, refreshing, and unifying for England fans, the Three Lions crashed out of Russia in the semi-finals, losing 2-1 to Croatia.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Kieran Trippier scored his first ever England goal in the fifth minute on a gorgeous free kick over the bar, but conceded a second half equalizer to Ivan Perisic to force extra time. Mario Mandzukic scored the winner in the 109th minute to send Croatia to their first ever World Cup finals, the second smallest country to ever accomplish that feat.
And it was Trippier’s international and club teammate, and England captain, Harry Kane who afterwards spoke to the media, saying how disappointed he was not to win, but how proud he was that he and his England teammates were able to rally their country behind the national team under manager Gareth Southgate.
Close, but just not close enough.
“Obviously it has been great to get to this stage and we know we have done everyone proud but we wanted to win. It hurts, it just hurts. It shows we can be up here, that we can win knockout games, can get to semi-finals and the next step is to go one step further.
”This is a great foundation we have built with the gaffer, we are proud of what we have achieved but we wanted more and are sad we couldn’t give our fans a final.”
“It is tough, we are gutted, we worked so hard and the fans were amazing. It was a tough game, a 50-50 game, I’m sure we will look back and there is stuff we could’ve done better.
”It hurts, it hurts a lot, but we can hold our heads up high - we have gone further than a lot of people thought we would do.”
England weren’t bad, but they were up against a Croatia side that were just a little bit hungrier, and just a little bit better. That was enough to see England off.
“We created some good chances being 1-0 up, there are lots of ifs and buts and it is hard in these games, it is small margins and it went their way today.
”Until they scored we were always under the cosh. There is a lot we could have done better but they played better.”
The Three Lions will play against Belgium in the meaningless third place match on Saturday. Ironically, Belgium are the team the most were hoping England would face in the finals, and this is now the second time that they’ll face the Red Devils in the World Cup without a whole lot to play for. Kane can also still take home individual honors by winning the Golden Boot — he is still the World Cup scoring leader with six goals, two above Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and three ahead of France’s Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
Croatia, which features a pair of former Tottenham players in Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka, will play against Hugo Lloris and France on in the finals on Sunday.