The oldest national team in the world played one of the youngest in a World Cup semifinal Wednesday. And the result was a game for the ages.
Mario Mandzukic’s goal four minutes into the second extra-time period eventually ended it, giving Croatia a 2-1 win over England and sending it on to Sunday’s World Cup against France. But few players on either side were still standing at the final whistle, the Croatians having dropped to the turf from joy and exhaustion after going to overtime for a third straight game while the English fell from disappointment after letting both a lead and a shot at a world championship slip through its fingers.
“For Croatian football and for Croatia as a country, this is history being written,” coach Zlatko Dalic said. “We have our heart, we have our pride, we have our players.”
Croatian showed that heart while adding to that history repeatedly over the last 11 days, becoming the first team to win three consecutive World Cup games in extra time – the first two going to penalty kicks. And Croatia came from behind in all three….