The bracket was on their side, the memes were on their side, and even the sport, a creation of their very own, appeared to be in favor of the Brits. Unfortunately for them, football won’t be coming home, because Croatia beat England in their World Cup semifinal today by a score of 2-1.
England had a perfect start with a Kieran Trippier free-kick goal in the fifth minute. They dominated the first half from there, getting tantalizingly close to a second goal on several occasions but coming up just short. Raheem Sterling had a typically Raheem Sterling day, repeatedly doing great work to beat his man but never getting the resulting touch or shot or pass right enough to give England a goal.
The visibly tired Croatians rallied in the second half. A wild, flying karate kick by Ivan Perišić tied things up in the 68th minute:
What looked like it was going to be a joyous romp to England’s second-ever World Cup final, their first since they won the tournament in 1966, then turned into a nightmare. The pressure seemed like it got to the English and they started making mistakes all over the pitch. England regained some momentum later on in the match, but by extra time the Croatians found their third wind and were the more threatening team. The killer blow came from Mario Mandžukić in the 109th minute:
So England wound up Englanding it after all. Croatia will meet France in a World Cup final in which France will be gigantically favored, in no small part because of how dead tired the Croats will almost certainly be by the time Sunday’s final rolls around. Still, in a single game anything can happen. Nobody knows for certain where the football will end up, but it definitely won’t be where going back where it came from.