England faced Croatia in the second semi-final game as 2018 World Cup action continued in Russia. England jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Kieran Trippier, making just his fifth international appearance, banged home a free kick from just outside the left penalty box area. Croatia would find their equalizer in the 68th minute, tying the game 1-1, where the score remained through 90 minutes of regular time. This led to 30 minutes of extra time when Mandzukic struck in the 109th minute, handing England a crushing defeat and propelling the Croatians to their second appearance in a World Cup Final.

Croatia will battle France for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 11 AM EST.

Second half full of excitement

England played conservatively in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with the Croatian team playing from behind. In the 64th minute, Ivan Perisic crushed a shot from the middle of the box toward goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and the left side of the net, but an English defender got in the way, and the score remained 1-1. Four minutes later, Perisic beautifully redirected the ball with just a touch of his right toe, past a diving Pickford to equalize the game at 1-1.

Croatia nearly took a 2-1 lead only four minutes later, but Perisic’s left-footed shot ricocheted off the far post, while the rebound was kicked, again, straight to Pickford -- who made an easy save.

The entire momentum of the game shifted in a matter of eight minutes, one of the aspects that makes the World Cup competition so entertaining. The Mandzukic goal in extra time cemented the turnaround and left England fans shaking their heads and wondering how things turned so quickly.

England’s path to the semi-finals

England finished in second place in Group G with a 2-0-1 record, six points in the standings, and a handsome plus-five goal differential.

England survived a scare in the opening round of the Group Stage against Tunisia when Team Captain Harry Kane netted his second goal of the game in the 91st minute to give England a 2-1 victory. England then spanked Panama 6-1 before falling to Belgium 1-0 in the final round of Group Stage play.

In the Round of 16, England finally broke their shootout curse in major championships -- six times in the past 22 years England has been eliminated via penalty kicks -- defeating Colombia 4-3 in the shootout after their 1-1 draw.

Invigorated, England defeated an over-matched Sweden team 2-0 to reach their semi-final match with Croatia. England will face Belgium in the third-place game on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at 10 AM EST.

Croatia’s path to the semi-finals

Croatia dominated the Group Stage, finishing 3-0 and winning Group D with nine points and a healthy plus-six goal differential. Their run to the semi-finals included a 3-0 dismantling of Lionel Messi and Argentina and a 2-1 victory over European Championship darling Iceland.

The Round of 16 found Croatia facing a Denmark team that comfortably navigated a weak Group C, with Croatia winning on penalty kicks 3-2. The quarterfinals featured Croatia vs Russia, with Croatia once again advancing on penalty kicks 4-3 and eliminating the host nation.

A resilient Russian team, down 2-1 after Domagoj Vida notched a goal in the 101st minute, forced a shootout in the 115th minute when Mário Fernandes headed home a set piece cross to tie the score 2-2 and force the shootout. Ultimately, though, Russia was eliminated.