KUWAIT, July 11 (KUNA) -- Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic said Wednesday his players were resilient, full of energy levels and were ready to play the full clash against England despite injuries.
Croatia, reaching the World Cup final for the first time in the country's history, had an outstanding performance at the Luzhnini Stadium. The team came from behind to beat the Brits in a show of mental toughness that was displayed by the Croats in previous matches in the 2018 World Cup.
Croatia will be playing against France in the final match on July 15.
"What our players did today, the strength they've shown, the stamina, the energy levels. I wanted to substitute but no one wanted to be subbed, everybody kept saying 'I'm ready, I can run on,'" Dalic told post-game news conference.
"Some players played with minor injuries with which they would not have played some other games. Two players played with half a leg, but it didn't show," he said.
This shows character and it "makes me proud. Nobody gave up" throughout the match which went into extra time.
The Croats were down by one goal scored in the 5th minute of the match, when England's Kieran Trippier curled a superb free kick from the top of the box to give the Three Lions the lead, and his first international goal.
The Croats were not discouraged by the goal and began pressing the ball, trying to find an opening in England's defense, but the Brits survived and the first half ended with them leading by one.
The second half began with Croatia on the offensive and their attempts were finally fruitful.
Ivan Perisic, named Man of the Match, got in beyond Kyle Walker to meet Sime Vrsaljko's cross to level the score sheet in the 68 minute.
There were many dangerous attempts at both goals, although Croatia's were more lethal and could have changed the score, sending the game to extra time.
And it was Mario Mandzukic who gave his country the lead in the 109 minute. The Juventus forward reacted to a flick and slammed the ball beyond Jordan Pickford.
Dalic was asked about France, which beat Belgium yesterday and advanced to the final. "Both teams have shown their qualities ... what we have to do is focus on preparing to play our best game of the tournament in the fina," he said.
England manager Gareth Southgate expressed full pride in his team and did not expect realistically to be in this position by playing for the third place.
Southgate acknowledged that the dressing room was a "very difficult place at the moment," where players were in a state of mind reflecting on the defeat and trying to overcome it.
"But what I will say is I'm remarkably proud of a group of players who have really advanced. I think the reaction of the supporters to them ... tells them that," he said. first and foremost, that experiences with England can be positive, the country are very proud of them and the way that theyآ’ve played and there will in time be a lot of positives to take."
England have now been eliminated in four of their five semi finals at major tournaments, losing each of the last four in a row (Euro 1968 against former Yugoslavia, World Cup 1990 against Germany, Euro 1996 against Germany and World Cup 2018 against Croatia).
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