World Cup diary 2018 – Thursday 12 July
England (1) 1 [Trippier (5’)]
Croatia (0) 2 [Perisic (68′), Mandzukic (109′)]
Twenty-two minutes…twenty-two minutes from a World Cup Final. That’s how close The Three Lions were. The interesting thing is to see how the whole squad reacts, not just in the coming season back at their respective clubs, but the next time they are in an England shirt. They will all know how close they came and that fact will forever lurk in their subconscious.
That first-half dominance just wasn’t made to count and Harry Kane will know that his golden chance to make it 2-0 will be shown for years to come, long after he has retired. The England side that played the second-half didn’t look the same as that in the opening forty-five minutes. Was it the pressure of the situation? Was it a game too far? Watching it, there was an inevitability about the Croatian equaliser as they got on top of England and it felt like we were clinging on as The Three Lions started Extra-time. Credit to Croatia, for all the pundits talk of them being tired because of the games they had played, they simply got stronger and were by the end worthy winners.
Deflated just doesn’t begin to describe the sensation at the final whistle. Right now, it feels like the competition is over and I’ve really no interest in the Third Place Play-off that England will have to contest with Belgium on Saturday or at this point in time the Final itself. It’s not bad sportsmanship, it’s just that I feel drained after the tension and relief of the Columbia result and the expectation that the Sweden game suddenly created.
However, I will, like the England, squad, take a break until Saturday, regroup and see things through to the end.