England’s big World Cup pleasure was proving people wrong, says Kyle Walker

Steve McClaren's England failed to reach Euro 2008 with defeat to Croatia

Steve McClaren's England failed to reach Euro 2008 with defeat to Croatia

When the final whistle blew and they knew they were going to their first World Cup final, the Croatians ran to their jumping and cheering fans in their iconic red-and-white checkered jerseys.

The winners will play France in the final on Sunday.

England, who made an early impression with a 6-1 crushing of Panama in the group stage, then overcame their shootout hoodoo in beating Colombia in the last 16 and looked composed and mature in the 2-0 quarter-final victory over Sweden. Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic rose into the air and with an acrobatic touch off his left foot, drilled the ball into the back of the net. Before this game they said we are exhausted but we showed in extra-time we had fresher legs than them.

England went ahead with its ninth set-piece goal of the tournament, after Luca Modric tripped Dele Alli, giving England a free kick about 25 yards out in the centre of the field.

The win sent tens of thousands of French people pouring onto the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris in scenes of joy last seen when France won the World Cup two decades ago.

And the former Southampton defender reckons Croatia deserved more respect adding, "This feels incredible, especially after everything that was said about us before the game".

Although he scarcely shirked mentioning his bemusement with English "expertise" when it came to football, any slight may be forgiven on what was the biggest of nights for Croatian football. Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford quietly restarted and managed to get into Croatia's box before the referee called them back.

Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia after 70 minutes to force extra-time, and a goal from Mario Mandzukic at 109 minutes ended the Three Lions' hopes.

"We're gutted. It hurts, it hurts a lot", Kane said after the match at the Luzhniki Stadium. We thought we were just good enough, we thought we could have done that.

Talk about the potential rule loophole started after Portugal's Jose Fonte strangely chose to stay in the field of play while the rest of his team celebrated Cristiano Ronaldo's equaliser against Spain off the pitch. When you have spells, you have to make them count.

And a sneaky Luka Modrić taking the Cup away from England. "Everybody has come. It's the best feeling in a long time".

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

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