World Cup Today: England unravels after dream start

Soccer is a funny game.

For an hour, it looked like England would be headed to Sunday's World Cup.

The Three Lions took the lead on a terrific free kick by Kieran Trippier in the 5th minute. The Tottenham defender bent his shot from 25 yards over the wall with a shot with his best imitation of David Beckham, the last England player to score direct from a free kick at the World Cup.

The Three Lions missed chances to extend their lead -- Harry Kane hit the post when he tried to stuff a rebound past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic at the near post in the 30th minute -- but they were generally in control of the match.

But then it all unraveled.

Croatia scored an equalizer in the 68th minute when an innocent-looking ball from right back Sime Vrsaljko floated into the area, where Ivan Perisic beat Kyle Walker to the ball and stabbed it past keeper Jordan Pickford.

Coming off two games that went to overtime, Croatia was supposed to be the team that was tired. But it was England that looked tired as the game went on. Minutes after the surprise equalizer, the England defense failed to clear the ball, and Perisic fired a low shot past Pickford but off the far post.

England was a bundle of nerves and was lucky to get to 90 minutes with the score still level at 1-1.

The game turned in overtime on two plays -- one on which a defender was alert, the other on which a defender was caught napping.

England looked to take the lead on overtime when a John Stones header was headed for the far post, but Vrsaljko anticipated the shot and back-pedaled, heading the ball off the line.

Later, a ball was played out to Perisic, who headed it back into the area. Stones was caught flat-footed as Mario Mandzukic, who was injured in the first overtime and almost didn't return, turned on the ball and fired it past Pickford for the winner in the 109th minute.

The game ended with England down to 10 players and out of substitutes. Trippier, the England goal-scorer, was injured in the second overtime and could only watch from the bench as the clock ran on England's dream of returning to the World Cup final for the first time since 1966.

Croatia -- the first team to earn three comeback wins in the knockout stage of a World Cup -- will play in its first final.

14 comments about "World Cup Today: England unravels after dream start".
  1. Wooden Ships, July 12, 2018 at 1:01 a.m.

    Croatian players across the board are more technical. England knew it and Croatia knew it. Good English run, they overachieved, bracket helped. Incredible heart on display.

  2. frank schoon, July 12, 2018 at 9:40 a.m.

    England survived with very simplistic soccer for obviously they lack technical expertise, but considering the lackluster teams in this WC did OK. The last time I enjoyed watching the English squad was when Chris Waddle a great winger with great one on one skills played. The English coach did go to Guardiola for advise in how to improve the English game, but that is only predicated on the quality of players. The English played lots of long balls, skipping much of their midfield play and just relying on goal scoring Kane , and "speedy Gonzalez" Sterling up front.
    Against Croatia, England supposedly played a 352 which got them through the first half because they had numbers around midfield. The Croatians played 4231, which I think is a rediculous formation that contributes to so much physical running in this WC. The second half the Croatians changed their system ,adding a midfielder and reducing a defender. That was the problem in the first half,  the Croatians employed 4 defenders in the back when the English employed only 2 attackers, thereby wasting a player. The rule is you should always have one more defender than attackers, not two. This is basic Tactics 101 but so often these teams (coaches) overlook the obvious, like placing wings on the wrong flanks when you have a tall centerforward who is good in the air or when playing against a team that "parks the bus".
    I hope Croatia wins, for France is playing "anti-soccer", garbage and certainly not representative considering the talent they have....

  3. beautiful game replied, July 12, 2018 at 10:10 a.m.

    Players are counted on by the coach to execute...Xs & Os are part of the tactical planning, but it's the player's individual & team efficacy that counts most....IMHO, you're over analyzing just like Stu Holden et al the Fox commentator. At least you agree that the "long balls" by England were mostly futile.

  4. frank schoon replied, July 12, 2018 at 10:44 a.m.

    I don't understand, BG, <Players are counted on by the coach to execute...Xs & Os are part of the tactical planning, but it's the player's individual & team efficacy that counts most.."> The players individual and team efficacy FOLLOWS the tactical planning of what the coach demands, otherwise they're benched, and the better the invidual and team efficacy is the stronger the tactical plan comes to fruition...what's the problem? You can't seperate the tactical planning from the team/ individual efficacy,for if you seperate the two then why bother with a plan; and if the team/efficacy is lousy than the plan will fail, therefore ,I state that you can't seperate the two aspects.
    Over analyzing? you attribute what these nitwits on Fox say as "overanalyzing", my cats have more soccer knowledge. You giving these NITWITS too much credit..they are clueless ,as far as I"m concerned.

  5. frank schoon replied, July 12, 2018 at 11:13 a.m.

    BG, what you call "overanalyzing" I call "details" of the game that tries to explain and rationalize why things happen. For example, you state  'long balls", that is detail. If you have a tall centerforward then you want him to take advantage of using his head, that is a detail. The next detail is you want players to be able to cross the ball,that's a detail. Next, time and space is detail, therefore you want the wing who crosses to be on proper flank as quick as possible, meaning right footed wing on right sided and vice, that's a detail. Why the proper the flank, because a leftfooted player on the rightflank would first have the bring the ball back to his left foot to cross meaning ,it takes more time...that's a detail.... I will stop here for I don't want to go any deeper, but You see where I'm going with all this. You might call it "overanalyzing", but that is how soccer is played/planned on the highest level in order to make everything  carried out on the fied in the most 'efficient manner" .. Like Cruyff states , Soccer played at the highest level is decided on detail"

  6. s fatschel, July 12, 2018 at 10:08 a.m.

    Great payback goal by Mandzukic.  Did I miss something or how is Pickford allowed to clean him out without any caution. Apparently keepers allowed different rule book.

  7. R2 Dad, July 12, 2018 at 11:22 a.m.

    Southgate didn't change his formation in the second half to address Croatias adjustments. He is culpable for conceding midfield dominance to the Croats. Not a rookie move, but holding out for PKs when the tide turns is a bad strategy.

  8. frank schoon replied, July 12, 2018 at 11:54 a.m.

    You noticed that Southgate changed his formation from a 352 to 532. He had 5 guys in a line back there because he felt Croatia was getting midfield control...

  9. s fatschel, July 12, 2018 at 12:14 p.m.

    As we see (or didn't) in Germany at the end of the day you need highly motivated players. Technical and tactical skills are a given at this level. The coach picks the players, the players lose the game.  To much on tactics is boring, besides when a team changes the other can too so still the outcome is not certain. 

  10. beautiful game, July 12, 2018 at 4:23 p.m.

    F.S. Let me clarify minus overeaction. First, the TV WC commentary is/was more smoke than fact as most comentators are putting on a show. IMHO, the strongest tactical plan won't work if the players can't execute it. I.E., Paulinho of BZLNT/Barcelona, good player, but limited soccer IQ to execute the game plan. 

  11. frank schoon replied, July 12, 2018 at 5:42 p.m.

    BG, <the strongest tactical plan won't work if the players can't execute it."> That is why the national team coach choose the best and most capable players that can best carry out his tactical plans. That is a given.....If he's going to play counterattacking soccer he is not going to choose slow players but quicones at those  positions where he needs them, and if he's planning to play "park the bus" then he'll choose tall centerbacks to counter I say it is all how you want to play, by planning and finding the players that can carry this plan....

  12. frank schoon replied, July 12, 2018 at 5:50 p.m.

    BG, it is not about IQ but functionality at the position that is asked for. For example, Garrincha was so dumb that the Brazilian national team coach in'66WC did not allow in on  to sit in the locker room to listen to the coach talking team tactics for he wouldn't understand. But give Garrincha the ball he would beat people left and right thereby creating space and time and numerical advantage for him and his teammates to score. Water carriers likewise don't need IQ but know there specific role

  13. uffe gustafsson, July 12, 2018 at 7:10 p.m.

    I have read franks long randed comments for a long time. Why are you not the Dutch national coach?
    you seem to know much better then any national coach. Oh yes the USA coaching job is open.
    no offence but can you keep it just a bit shorter so I don’t have to read it like a book.
    i do appreciate your words but I get lost at times.
    just a suggestion

  14. Bob Ashpole, July 13, 2018 at 10:04 p.m.

    Tactical, technical, physical, and mental are the 4 aspects of a player. We don't field players in pieces, so all 4 aspects take the field.

    The bottom line is that players win games, not coaches.

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