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World Cup 2018: 3 key battles that decided Croatia's 2-1 win over England

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2.79K   //    12 Jul 2018, 03:40 IST

Croatia v England : Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup
Jubilant Croatia players celebrate Mario Mandzukic's goal in extra time

Mario Mandzukic scored in the 109th minute to ensure that Croatia just about inched out a spirited England side to book a place in the World Cup final. The Croatians reach their first final in their history, overcoming the disappointment of a third-place finish in 1998.

A Kieran Trippier free-kick in the 5th minute gave England the early advantage they were looking for and despite constantly knocking on Croatian doors, they just couldn't find the net. They were punished by Ivan Perisic in the 68th minute and the game headed to extra-time.

With the ball in the air, Perisic awkwardly headed it back into the penalty box and Mandzukic confidently put it past Jordan Pickford as he caught the English defence sleeping. Croatia will now face France in the World Cup final, in what is set to be an absolute blockbuster of a match.

#3 Ivan Perisic vs Kyle Walker

2018 FIFA World Cup Football Semi Final Croatia v England Jul 11th
Ivan Perisic bossed the left flank today

To be fair, this is Ivan Perisic against any English player who was deployed on their right side. The player was absolutely destructive down the flank. Trippier was doing the best he could to contain the effect the winger could have on the game, but there is only so much he could do.

The Tottenham right-back made five interceptions but the same cannot be said about Kyle Walker who struggled to deal with Perisic. Ante Rebic was causing similar problems down England's left, winning almost every 1v1 situation against Ashley Young as Croatia slowly grew into the game and asserted their dominance.

Perisic's role requires him to be a true work-horse and he was so from the get-go. Along with Mandzukic, the player's movements were incredibly well-timed and often confusing for the English defence who just couldn't keep up with the pace.

His goal in the 68th minute was coming; a series of chances had come their way and the Inter Milan winger had to awkwardly connect with a ball to beat Jordan Pickford. He once again punished a sleeping Kyle Walker when the defender failed to block his header that easily reached the box when it had no business doing so.

By creating three chances, picking up one assist and scoring the equalizer, Ivan Perisic has pulled off a near perfect World Cup semi-final performance.

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