02:30 am: But ultimately, it is a familiar story of heartbreak for England. You wonder if they’d ever get a chance like this to reach the World Cup final. Croatia, meanwhile, continue their dream run. That will be all from us for tonight! Hope you enjoyed the coverage. Remember, only two games left in the World Cup... *sheds a tear*

02:28 am: Football might not be going home (time to put an end to that, then) but credit to this England team for their run. Southgate and his boys (who grew into men) will surely be received warmly back home.

02:25 am: Can Croatia go all the way now? It’s been a stunning, stunning run.

02:22 am: Harry Kane, red-eyed and all, talking after the match:

“Tough game, we are gutted. It was a 50-50 game. We can hold our heads up high. It’s hard, in big games, it’s about small margins. It hurts, I don’t what else to say. It’s a great foundation, we are proud of what we have achieved. We want more.”

02:19 am: Some stats to put Croatia’s achievement in perspective.

02:15 am: Croatia is the first team to come from behind in three straight knockout stage matches to advance at the World Cup. What a mind-boggling stat!


FULL-TIME: AS you’d expect, tears for England. There were about 20 mins away from earning their place in the final, but it was not to be.

FULL TIME: A FIRST EVER WORLD CUP FINAL AWAITS CROATIA! What a night for their Golden Generation.


124th min: Rashford takes it...CROATIA HEAD AWAY.

124th min: FREE KICK ENGLAND. Hand ball. From a good area, about 35 yards from goal down the left. This is it for England. Their last chance.

122nd min: Correction, 4 mins added on. But two mins of those are already done. And now there are plenty of fouls and stoppages and long balls to no one in particular. This looks like it’s over for England.

120th min: CHANCE CROATIA! Kramaric through as Croatia counter, PErisic is free if he cuts it back, goes for England and it’s wide. A roar goes up as referee says 3 mins have been added on. Do England have it in them?

119th min: MODRIC walks off to a standing ovation! Croatia would do well not to concede late here. Badlej comes on.

117th min: Oh dear! Trippier is limping off in tears. His game, that started so well, is over. England will have to finish this with 10 men on the pitch.

115th min: Mandzukic walks off. Well, limps off. Is he the match-winner? Is he the headline-maker? Time-wasting going on as well, as you’d expect. Corluka comes on. MEanwhile, Trippier has limped off the pitch and England don’t have subs remaining.

112th min: Vardy has come on for England... Southgate’s trump card? 8 minutes left to go to break England’s hearts. Expect Croatia to bring in “shrewd” game management now.

MANDZUKIC MIGHT HAVE SNATCHED THIS FOR CROATIA: Perisic wins a good header down the left, Stones switches off to let Mandzukic run in behind him and hit it across the goal and into the net.


107th min: CORNER CROATIA as Lingard gets a touch on Perisic’s cross. Croatia try to catch England napping and almost succeed. Pivaric is found by a ball rolled into the D and he lets it fly – side-netting.

106th minute: Second half of ET underway. 15 mins away from another shootout if there’s no hero (or villain in the next quarter hour).

HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME: Mandzukic still limping, Pickford getting the fist bumps from his teammates for that magnificent save. And we carry on!

2 mins of stoppage time: Croatia push forward now. OH WHAT A SAVE PICKFORD!!!!! Mandzukic is found by a delicious cross by Perisic from the left, it looks like it’s a tap in for the Croatian front man but Pickford comes out in a jiffy and gets his knee to it. WHAT A SAVE! Mandzukic down as a result of that coming-together.

104th min: England are pushing down the left but the final ball is missing. We are seconds away from half-time of ET.

102nd min: Kramaric comes on for Rebic as Croatia make their second change. Tired legs beginning to show for Croats as passes are being underhit but can England make anything out of it?

99th min: OFF THE LINE! VRSALJKO CLEARS FOR CROATIA! John Stones with a solid header to the far post, it’s heading in with Subasic beaten but the Atleti man heads it away on the line. CRUCIAL INTERVENTION!

98th min: Another change for England – Dier comes on Henderson. And his first touch of the ball is an effort from distance that is blocked and goes for a corner. Another set-piece for England.

95th min: And there it is, first signs of Croatia feeling it in their muscles. Strinic is down, and just as in the previous knockout games, Pivaric comes on.

92nd min: Despite Croatia not making a single substitution, (or because of that) you have to think England will have the physical edge but the game is going to be all about the mental makeup now too.

Extra time begins: England make another change, Danny Rose comes on for Ashley Young. By the way... two penalty shooutouts coming into the match, and Croatia haven’t made a substitution in the 90 mins. How are they still going? Incredible.

AWAITING EXTRA TIME: Massages are done, team talks are done. Southgate with specific instructions to different players. We are almost set for the extra time to begin. Here we go again. Who is going to come out on top here?

FULL TIME, it’s 1-1: After 90 minutes, there’s nothing to separate the two sides! We await extra time.... Third time for Croatia in this World Cup, second for England.

92nd min: Free kick England from the right flank. Late madness? No, not quite. Good delivery, Kane in space, heads it down – but well wide.

90th minute: We have three minutes of stoppage time. England desperately need a break to recoup it looks like. Croatia, meanwhile, have all three subs remaining! Amazing, when you think the effort they had put in against Denmark and Russia.

88th min: Croatia continue to dominate possession while England hoof the ball up and hope one of their pacy forwards could win the race. Not happening so far.

84th min: PERISIC! OH WOW, this game has completely turned on it’s head since the Croatia goal. Pickford punches a high ball out, but its only as far as Perisic who takes a shot on goal first time, with Pickford off his line but the ball sails over. Had Perisic kept that down, a certain goal.

83rd min: MANDZUKIC GOES CLOSE! A ball over the England’s defence finds Mandzukic in space who hits it first time on the volley from close range. Pickford parries and gathers at his near post.

81st minute: OH DEAR! Trippier with a dangerous back-pass that Perisic almost latched on to before Walker intervenes and sends a back pass to Pickford to clear. England are looking very shaky at the back.

78th min: England push forward once again. Lingard with a short from the right that rolls across Subasic, followed by Henderson’s long-range wild effort.

Replays of that Perisic effort that hit the post reiterate how un-ready Rebic was for the rebound. He had an open goal to take aim at but was caught by surprise.

76th minute: England are reduced to playing long punts now a they try to clear cross after cross – Croatia are starting to dominate the midfield. Can England compose themselves once again?

74th minute: First change for England. Sterling off, Rashford on. Croatia are dominating this game now.

72nd minute: CROATIA HIT THE POST! England are rattled. Massive miscommunication at the back between Pickford and Stones. Pickford is tracking back. Perisic hits from the left flank, across goal and hits the far post. Great chance.

71st minute: That’s the moment that has put Croatia back in this game. England paying the price for not converting all those chances. Croatia fans are in full voice!

68th minute: GOALLLLL CROATIAAAAAA! PERISIC SCORES! Lovely cross from Vrsaljko down the right flank... Perisic gets ahead of Walker and gets his left boot to it and puts the ball in the back of the net. Foul on Walker for high boot? No, it’s a goal alright. AND WE ARE BACK AT SQUARE ONE!

67th min: Walker can walk again. Meanwhile, looks like Carra agrees with us.

65th min: CHANCE CROATIA! Perisic with a shot from the edge of the box after England fail to clear properly. That was well hit, Pickford was scrambling, but Walker got his body on the line – OUCH! That hit him in a painful area. He’s down, as you’d expect any man to be.

63rd min: Sterling is found in space inside Croatia’s box by Henderson. The Man City man dribbles and tries to cut back – was he fouled by Vida? Referee says no. Croatia break down the left flank, and Walker once again shows good pace to cut the move out.

61st min: A wild swing by Rakitic from outside the box. Goal kick England. Can’t remember Pickford having to make a difficult save in this game yet.

59th minute: Corner Croatia after a miscued clearance by Walker. Pickford with a solid punch from Modric’s delivery. The game is getting a little bit tetchy out there.

58th min: Strnic finds himself in some pace down the left inside England’s box, but it’s cleared away. And replays show it was a wonderful clearance by Lovren earlier with Kane going for a diving header for that Trippier cross.

56th min: Corner ENGLAND after Lingard’s volley is deflected behind. Trippier to take again. Croatia clear. England come again and Trippier sends in a good low cross with Kane lurking at the near post, but Croatia clear again.

55th min : YELLOW CARD for Kyle Walker. After a great effort to get across and prevent the attack from developing Walker takes the ball in his hand to slow down Croatia’s throw in. Silly. That move started with Stones losing possession in the midfield. Corner for Croatia but foul called on Lovren.

53rd min: Croatia are looking flat. One would have expected them to come out all guns blazing. A lofted ball to the far post from the left flank by Rebic gets Perisic to applaud but it’s harmless.

50th minute: Looks like the yellow card was for Rebic according to the Fifa match center. Actually scratch that, the commentator confirms it was Mandzukic. Yes, the replays confirm that.

(That’s pretty much all that has happened in the first five minutes here)

48th min: First YELLOW CARD of the night. Confusion over who got booked. Rebic who fouled Walker or Mandzukic for his reaction?

46th min: And we are underway in Moscow once again...

12:30 am: Some replays of that Croatia set-piece at the end of the half show Lovren had a good shout for a penalty. Anyway, that’s in the past.

Here’s some good omen for England fans...

12:24 am: A look at the half-time stats... and some scenes from England!

HALF TIME: England controlled the game very well. Croatia chased the ball around, forced a few half chances but Trippier’s stunning goal the difference at the end. If anything, Southgate and Co might be a little upset with the scoreline.

Fans are happy though...

HALF TIME, ENGLAND 1-0 CROATIA: A free kick that England have deal with before the first half closes and deal with it, they do. The referee blows for half time and Lovren has a long argument with the referee over some pushing and shoving during that last free kick. Waved off by the ref. End of an entertaining first half.

45th minute: CHANCE CROATIA! Poor clearance by Pickford (after a series of under-hit back-passes by the men in front of him) and Croatia come forward. Rakitic controls well inside the box but couldn’t sort his feet out.

44th minute: To be honest, the first real lull in this match, which has been played at a fantastic tempo. England still trying to get forward when they can.

After 40 mins, it’s 1-0 England: The commentator just said that Croatia have had only one legal touch of the ball inside the England penalty area. That’s a remarkable statistic, and one that England’s defence have earned by their hard work.

36th minute: Lingard! Goes close! Alli rolls the ball across the edge of the box with Lingard in space, he tries to curl one into the bottom corner but it’s off target.

34th minute: CROATIA GO CLOSE AGAIN! With Rebic looking like the favourite to latch on to a cutback from the left flank, Young makes a vital sliding interception. Corner comes to nothing.

Here’s a look at Kane’s miss. Poor by the England captain’s standards.

32nd minute: Croatia go close! First a Rebic cross is somehow hacked clear by Stones, the Croat then has a go from distance but Pickford makes a straightforward save.

31st minute: WHAT A MISS! KANE, JUST DID THAT?! HE’s through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, a few yards away. Hits it tamely to Subasic. And from the rebound, hits the post (near zero angle there though) – the flag goes up really late, but not sure if it was an offside had Kane actually scored. Think it would have stood on VAR.

29th minute: What a moment for the man called ‘The Bury Beckham’!

27th minute: More good work by Sterling who races after a rather lose pass forward by Lingard and retrieves, and wins a free kick too. Young delivers it into a good area but Subasic deals with this one.

It’s 1-0 England after 25 minutes: Sterling and Lingard are continuing to trouble Croatia’s defence with their pace. This is exciting to watch if you are an England fan.

What else was exciting? The moment Trippier scored that goal. Check out the reaction.

22nd minute: OFFSIDE! A horror clearance from Croatia sees Sterling win the ball and slip Kane through but the England captain was well offside and missed the target too for good measure. Banterous few moments all around.

21st minute: Croatia continue to probe and this is a good little phase for them. Rebic has a shot blocked. England then counter, and Kane is fouled by Lovren in the middle of the park.

19th minute: Perisic with a shot from distance, that ruffles the side netting. Should have been a corner Croatia, but the referees don’t spot that.

Just as we had hinted earlier, here’s the stat to prove that... Croatia have now been behind in this game for longer than they have been in the entire World Cup (all games together)

18th minute: Croatia have shown the knack to hit back instantly when conceding an early goal. (Against Denmark and Russia). But tonight, they are finding the going tough so far. A decent spell of possession is wasted by a stray pass from midfield.

14th minute: Another corner for England, this time from the right, won by Trippier. He delivers it and Maguire goes close again! What a start this by England. The header across goal is a yard or two away from the goal (although not the most powerful)

12th minute: Good delivery from Young, Magurie rises the highest but the referee has blown the whistle against England. Once again though, England threatening from setpieces.

12th minute: England have a corner... Ashley Young to take. Surely not again, this early?

10th minute: Sterling might not have scored for England at the World Cup but has been a massive part of their game. An out-ball every time as Kane almost finds him running through on goal with England clearing Croatia’s first corner.

7th minute: The celebrations were quite a sight. And the goal? Delicious! England’s 9th setpiece goal at the World Cup so far out of their 12. That’s just brilliant. Subasic had no chance with that one.


A stunning free kick from England’s best player at this World Cup so far.

4th minute: Well, well. England have a free-kick from a very central position. Just outside the box. Modric with a foul on Dele Alli after a wonderful run by Lingard. Set-piece alert!

After 3 mins, it’s 0-0: No definitive answer to whether football is going home or not after the first 3 mins. Sluggish start to the game.

11:30 pm: We have kick-off, ladies and gentlemen. May the best team win!

11:29 pm: Agree with you, random England fan!

11:28 pm: England are wearing all-whites tonight... wonder how the England fans are feeling about that.

11:26 pm: Meanwhile, Wimbledon is trying to World Cup’s thunder, big time...

11:25 pm: Right, then. Time for National Anthems! Starting with Croatia.... followed by England.

11:23 pm: #WaistcoastWednesday is upon us. Out walks Southgate looking dapper as always.

11:20 pm: Here’s a quick poll for you... who will win tonight? Cast your vote. Close to a 100 votes in, and it’s too tight to call – something tells us the game is going to be just like that.

11:15 pm: While it’s not surprising to see England name an unchanged XI, there was one school of thought that suggested Southgate might need one more defensive-minded player in the midfield to combat Croatia’s. But Southgate has resisted the tempation to do that.

(Graphics courtesy: @FifaWorldCup)

11:08 pm: Just like we saw in the first semi-final, this game will feature two goalkeepers in tremendous form. Keep an eye on Subasic’s fitness though...

11:05 pm: More stats for you to enjoy...

  • Danijel Subasic became the third goalkeeper to save four penalties in World Cup shoot-outs after Harald Schumacher (1982-1986) and Sergio Goycochea (1990). Coincidentally, all three have saved at least one penalty against the host team and advanced from that tie (Mexico-Germany FR in 1986, Italy-Argentina in 1990, Russia-Croatia in 2018).
  • In beating first Denmark and then Russia, Croatia became the second team to win two penalty shoot-outs in the same edition, after Argentina did it in 1990.
  • England boast three wins, one draw (in 1954, before the introduction of penalty shoot-outs) and one defeat in games decided in extra time. Against Colombia the Three Lions finally won a World Cup penalty shoot-out at the fourth time of asking, after losing their first three.

11:00 pm: 30 minutes to go! If you are just joining us... here’s the team news:

England manager Gareth Southgate named an unchanged starting line-up. It is the same team, captained by six-goal top scorer Harry Kane, as that which started in the 2-0 win over Sweden in the quarter-finals on Saturday

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic makes one change to the team that beat hosts Russia on penalties in the quarter-finals, with Andrej Kramaric making way for Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

That is likely to mean a change in system to a 4-3-3, with Brozovic holding in midfield in between Ivan Rakitic and skipper Luka Modric. Sime Vrsaljko has been passed fit to start at right-back after coming off hurt in extra-time against Russia.

Croatia (4-3-3):

Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Luka Modric (capt), Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic; Ante Rebic, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic

Coach: Zlatko Dalic (CRO)

England (3-5-2):

Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Kieran Trippier, Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Ashley Young; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane (capt)

Coach: Gareth Southgate (ENG)

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (TUR)

10:57 pm: This has been a tournament of crucial set-piece goals (just as we saw for France against Belgium last night) and no one personifies that more than England. Eight of their 11 goals have been from set-plays.

10:54 pm: England players, former and active, have been pretty excited about the game all day.

10:48 pm: There are concerns that fatigue could be a factor for Zlatko Dalic’s side, given they were forced to come through 120 minutes and penalties against both the hosts and Denmark in the last two rounds.

However, Liverpool centre-back Lovren does not think that will be a factor.

“I am perfectly ready and fit and I can say the same for my teammates. We know what it takes and in such moments you forget any fatigue you may feel,” said the 29-year-old at Tuesday’s eve-of-game press conference at the Luzhniki Stadium.

“This is maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It may repeat itself once, maybe never.”

And, incidentally, Croatia have named a strong lineup despite injury concerns for a few of their players like shootout hero Subasic, and Vrsaljko, Rebic to name a few.

10:42 pm:

  • Croatia are breaking national records with two unprecedented runs in the World Cup, having gone five matches unbeaten, with three wins and two draws (games that they subsequently won on penalties), and scored in nine successive matches. The Balkan team last failed to find the net in a 0-0 stalemate with Japan in 2006.

10:35 pm:

  • England have qualified for the World Cup semi-finals for the third time, doing so on European soil just as in 1966 and 1990. If they proceed to qualify for the final, it will only be the second time in their history.

Here’s how the teams are expected to lineup tonight... expect a tight midfield battle.

10:32 pm: Here are more details about their head-to-head. Remember, it’s a fairly young rivalry as Croatia formally became an independent nation only in 1992.

  • This is the eighth showdown between the pair and England lead the overall head-to-head series with four wins to Croatia’s two, plus a 0-0 draw from their first meeting in April 1996.
  • They last crossed paths on 9 September 2009, in qualifying for South Africa 2010: England ran out 5-1 winners at Wembley following braces from Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and a Wayne Rooney goal, with Eduardo replying for Croatia.
  • England and Croatia have locked horns once before in the finals of an international competition, at the UEFA European Championship 2004, where the Three Lions emerged 4-2 victors in the group phase. The English scorers were Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney (two) and Frank Lampard, whereas Croatia netted through Niko Kovac and Igor Tudor.

10:25 pm: Here’s how the teams have done at Russia 2018 so far... (shootout wins after a draw in extra-time marked as wins)

10:20 pm: Hear, hear! Team news is here. England are unchanged. For Croatia, goalscorer in the quarter-final Andrej Kramaric makes way for Brozovic.

10:15 pm: Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic has left no doubt over who he’s backing to win at the World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia.

The Croat, who won the Wimbledon title as a wildcard in 2001 in one of the most incredible modern day sporting fairy-tales, teased the England fans for being “arrogant” with the whole ‘football is coming home’ mania that has gripped the country.

“I hope that we will not lose to the English because you were already in the final, you already won, you’re coming home, you’re bringing a trophy, you are so arrogant, you are the best, you are the most beautiful. For sure you’re coming home, but I hope without a trophy.”

— Ivanisevic to the BBC

10:08 pm: Well, time to get our focus back to the World Cup. Here’s a look at the head to head between England and Croatia.

10:00 pm: Well, 2018 might really be the year of truly remarkable results concerning England. (Bit of a stretch, there?) Anyway, the unthinkable has happened. Federer loses to Anderson in a thrilling five-set win.

09:53 pm: Just away from football for a moment, there is a massive result unfolding at the Wimbledon. Roger Federer is on the brink of elimination.

09:47 pm: We are sure you can’t get wait for the match to get started, but as you wait, why not take our World Cup semi-final quiz? It’s fun, we promise. You’ll either do really well or end up learning a new thing or two – it’s a win-win really.

09:40 pm: Is football coming home? We’ll get closer to finding the answer to the question tonight as England take on Croatia in the semi-final of the Fifa World Cup. For England, this is the first semi-final appearance in 28 years. For Croatia, their first since 1998.

Excitement has reached fever-pitch levels back in England, with Gareth Southgate’s young team making it to the last four of a major tournament for the first time since Euro ‘96, and for the first time at a World Cup since Italy in 1990.

Both of those runs ended in defeats on penalties, but there is a belief that something could be different this time.

England have already won a shootout in Russia, against Colombia in the last 16. And a young, likeable side with an eminently sensible and humble manager in Southgate have captured the hearts of a nation.

The challenge posed by Croatia is likely to be more demanding, especially as Zlatko Dalic’s side features one of the best midfield pairings around, in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

Real Madrid playmaker Modric, who was at Tottenham Hotspur earlier in his career at the same time a young Kane was starting out, has been a particular inspiration. The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russia in Sochi at the weekend.

That allowed Croatia to reach the semi-finals for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France, which was their first as an independent nation. For a country with a population of little more than four million, making it all the way to the final would be a remarkable achievement.

(with AFP inputs)