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England 1-2 Croatia: Mario Mandzukic nets extra-time winner as Three Lions suffer semi-final heartbreak - 5 talking points

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 11-07-2018 Simon Mullock

(Slideshow by Reuters)

England's World Cup dream perished in cruel fashion in the Luzhniki Stadium.

Gareth Southgate's men just couldn't take the final step into Sunday's final as their first appearance in the last four for 28 years was ended by extra-time heartbreak.

The Three Lions led for over an hour thanks to Kieran Tripper's brilliant early free-kick.

But Ivan Perisic saved Croatia with a volleyed equaliser midway through the second half, before and

Mario Mandzukic's clinical finish broke English hearts in the early minutes of the second half of extra-time.

England must now try to raise themselves for the play-off against Belgium in St Petersburg on Saturday.

Zlatko Dalic's side will face France in the showpiece final 24 hours later.

Here's five things we spotted.

1. Two lapses in concentration

Luka Modric et al. watching a football ball © Provided by Credits: AFP

Two moments of defensive indiscipline. That's what cost England their chance to lift the World Cup for the first time since 1966. First, with Southgate's side trying to repel Croatia's quest for a second-half equaliser, Perisic sneaked in to send the game into extra-time. And then Manzukic won it when a rearguard that has been outstanding in Russia switched off for a split second again.

2. England are set-piece kings

a group of football players on a field © Provided by Credits: REX/Shutterstock

When Trippier fired the Three Lions into a fifth-minute lead with a brilliant 25-yard free-kick it was the ninth goal they had scored from a set-piece in the tournament. That's one more than Portugal scored in 1966.

3. England should have been out of sight

a group of men playing a game of football © Provided by Credits: REUTERS

Southgate's side should have been home and hosed before half-time but for once not everything Harry Kane touched turned to goals. The England captain should have put England 2-0 up, but after hitting his close-range effort too close to Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic, he fired the rebound against the post.

4. England play in trademark fashion

a group of baseball players playing a football game © Provided by Credits: AFP

England dominated the first 45 minutes playing the kind of slick-passing football that has been their trademark in Russia. But when Croatia hit back to boss possession after the break, all the familiar old English habits came creeping back. England sat deep and surrendered the ball as what had been long passes forward became hit-and-hope punts. An equaliser felt inevitable.

5. Perisic makes his mark

a man with a football ball © Provided by Credits: REUTERS

Perisic has been waiting to make his mark on the World Cup and the Inter Milan winger was a livewire when his country really needed him. He sent the game into extra-time with a vital 68th-minute leveller. England failed to close down Sime Vrsaljko on the right and Perisic got in front of Kyle Walker to volley home his cross.

(Also watch: Jubilations in England and Croatia on semi-final opening goals)

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(Video by AFP)

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