S2 SCORE with theSun JULY 12, 2018

7.30pm Daily  14 June - 15 July 2018 . i e - 15 July 2018

SuperMario Mandzukic scores in the 109th minute as Croatia come from behind to beat England after extra time M ARIOMANDZUKIC scoredthewinning goal deep in extra time as Croatia beat England2-1 in control the game, but instead it was he who gave away the early freekick fromwhich Trippier put England ahead. It was a fantastic curling effort




VS 1 2

Trippier5’ England


an utterly gripping World Cup semifinal inMoscowearlier today to set up a final datewith France. TheJuventusforwardnettedin the 109th minute to complete a remarkable comeback from a shattered Croatian team and take the small nationof littlemore than fourmillionpeople into theWorld Cup final for the first time in their short history. Kieran Trippier’s magnificent early freekick had seemingly set England on course to reach their first final since they lifted the trophy onhome soil back in 1966. But it wasn’t to be, as Croatia came roaring back in the second half and equalised through Ivan Perisic before somehow finding the energy to win despite being taken to extra time for the third time in 10days. The biggest winners of the night could well be France, who have had an extra day’s rest for Sunday’s final after edging out Belgium1-0 onTuesday. That will not matter toomuch right nowfor Croatia, who are the smallest nation to make it to the final sinceUruguay back in 1950. England had been the ones hoping to make history, in what was their first appearance in the semifinals in 28 years. Then they were beaten on penalties by West Germany. Havingendedtheirfamouspenalty curse by beating Colombia in a shootout in the last 16, theymight have fancied repeating here. But Croatia, having won on penalties against Denmark and Russia in the last two rounds, saw the game out, dousing theWorld Cup dreamof Gareth Southgate’s side that had gone from the improbable to the possible over the lastmonth inRussia. Southgate stuckwith the same startingline-upasthatwhicheased past Sweden in the quarterfinals, while Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic replaced Andrej Kramaric in theCroatian line-up. They were looking to the inspirational Luke Modric to

from25yards fromtheTottenham Hotspur fullback, and England’s first goal direct froma free-kick at the World Cup since David Beckham against Ecuador in 2006. England could not have imagined a better start. Croatiawerestunned,andIvan Rakitic, usually so accomplished, was especially off his game. ZlatkoDalic’ssidedidgradually grow into the contest, but they could still be relieved to go in at halftime only one goal down, especially as Harry Kane was denied by a combination of goalkeeperDanijelSubasicandthe woodwork on the half-hourmark. Croatia hung on and it was to their immense credit that they turned the tide after the break in what developed into an epic encounter. Shooting towards the end of the Luzhniki Stadiumwheremost of their fans were gathered, they equalised in the 68th minute, as Sime Vrsaljko crossed from the right and Perisic stole in front of the stoopingKyleWalker to score with his left foot. Having looked so comfortable earlier, England’s young sidewere rattled, and theywere luckynot to gobehindsoonafterasPerisicsent a low shot across Jordan Pickford and off the far post. Unable to get the second goal while they were on top, Croatia were forced into extra time again. Vrsaljko cleared a JohnStones header away from in front of the line, but England had Pickford to thank for a brilliant save as Mandzukic connected with a devilishPerisic cross. It was a wonder the Juventus forward did not break a limb as Pickford crunched into him. He managed to carry on after treatment, and he was on hand to sweep the ball low past Pickford afterPerisic’sheaderback into the area caught the England defence on the hop to finally decide a brilliant contest. –AFP

Perisic68’ Mandzukic109’


BYETOGOLDENGENERATION BELGIUM’S defeat by France in their World Cup semifinal produced mixed feelings of sadness, gratitude and pride from fans at home yesterday, who bemoaned a missed opportu- nity for their “golden generation”. “We’re very disappointed,” 27-year-old Alice Cordier told AFP in Waterloo. “It’s really too bad to lose to France, Belgium’s national bad luck,” she added. “But we are still proud to be Belgian.” Some echoed the love-hate relationship and inferiority complex many French-speaking Walons have with their bigger neighbour France. “We will hear it spoken about for one hundred years,” 26-year-old supporter Stephanie Smeets said. “The French will take the mickey out of us.” But Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was full of praise for the Red Devils. “Bravo @BelRedDevils for your performance and having thrilled us until the semifinal,” Michel tweeted. For many observ- ers, this generation of talented players including Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany and others had a real chance to come home victorious. “Regrets are eternal. It will not be our day of glory on this 10 July,” a presenter of Belgium’s French-language RTBF television station said after the final whistle. But he thanked the team. “Thanks for having allowed, thanks to football, to forget every- thing a bit and enjoy moments of pleasure.” DENIEDBY ‘SMALLMARGINS’ BELGIUM coach Roberto Martinez said luck was against his side as they fell short against France in the World Cup semifinal yesterday. “It was a very tight game. There were not many big moments that were going to decide the game and it came down to one dead-ball situation,” said Martinez of the 51st-minute goal that separated the sides. “We had the ball and I think we have to give a lot of credit to France for the way they defended – they were very deep, they gave us a lot of respect in that way and yet we couldn’t find a bit of margin in front of goal, a little bit of luck. That was the difference, but if you’re going to lose, I’m so proud of the players. You have to accept it and congratulate France and wish them luck in the final. I didn’t see France running away with the game. It just came down to very small margins – the first goal was going to be vital. It’s a really sad dressing room now, because the opportu- nity of being in the final was the only focus we had,” added Martinez. “We could easily have frozen. France were in the final of the Euros, but I don’t want any of my players to be frustrated or disappointed. We want to finish on a high, and these players deserve to finish on a high.” Martinez added: “It is a difficult emotion to manage – you are disappointed because you have lost the semifinal, and it is hard to see the opportunity of playing another game as a real positive. I think it’s too early to make any sort of assessment on the tourna- ment,” said Martinez

Pogbacontinues toshinebright away fromthespotlight TAKE yourself out of Russia for one moment and cast your mind back to Sat April 7. Manchester City are hosting Manchester United in a derby which could wrap up the title for Pep Guardiola’s side in the sweetest way possible for the fans packed inside the Etihad. are his good games anomalies? Perhaps, but if you look at the string of consistently good performances he is putting together for France, it is easy to discover that he is far more than the erratic performer at United. highlight reels. The responsibility towin games is all his at United, but with France he is accompanied by Antoine Griezmann, Kante andMbappe who play to Pogba’s many strengths in creative moves.

Playing alongsideN’GoloKante andBlaise Matuidi gives himsignificantlymore creative licence, but it’s Pogba’s relationship with KylianMbappewhichhas allowedhimtoplay at his best in Russia. At Old Trafford Pogba shared a midfield with Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial andAlexis Sanchez for themajority of the season. Often when he received the ball, 75,000 fans and nine outfield players in red would stare back at him expectantly. Not through lack of talent, but through the weight of expectation Pogba is often perceived to be a fraction of the player he is portrayed in his

“We talk about him as being a bit lazy, but tonight he’s been second to none,” Danny Murphy told BBC Sport . Against BelgiumPogba’s performancewas good, not exceptional and not dreadful, which is fine. If Pogba performed the way he did yesterday but in a Manchester United shirt, the umpteenth inquest would begin about his time at Old Trafford. Instead, he’s on his way to a World Cup final where he will quite possibly be the one who can win France’s second tournament, whether it’s down to a stunning solo performanceor anotherdisciplinedshowing. – The Independent

Itwas Paul Pogba whodominated all of the pre-match build-up. Guardiola mischievously saidCitywere offered to sign Pogba, with the Frenchman then choosing to arrive at the stadiumwith blue hair. Jose Mourinho’s side were poor in the first half and found themselves two down at the break. Enter Pogba, who took all the plaudits by scoring two good goals to claw United back into the game which set up Chris Smalling to complete an emphatic comeback. A week later and United lost 1-0 to West Bromat OldTrafford. Pogbawas cautioned in the first half and brought off after an hour. So

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