‘Utterly choked, but they gave everything’ – England’s young lions praised despite World Cup semi defeat

So near, and yet so far. England had looked to be on the cusp of the World Cup final, but fell victim to a determined Croatia side that never gave up in a last-four battle. 

Having got past Colombia and Sweden to reach their first semi since 1990, England enjoyed a dream start when Kieran Trippier smashed in a free-kick in the opening minutes . 

But the Three Lions failed to build on their advantage, and it was Ivan Perisic who restored parity after the break with an improvised finish over the sprawling Kyle Walker. 

And Mario Mandzukic ended any hopes of a trip to the decider with a cool finish in extra time, sealing the final result at 2-1 in the Balkan side’s favour . 

It has been an exhilirating ride for England’s faithful through Russia, however, and despite disappointment Gareth Southgate’s charges were praised highly for a fine campaign. 

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