England suffer heartbreak despite Trippier’s stunning opener
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Five Tottenham Hotspur players featured against Croatia, but couldn’t help the Three Lions reach the World Cup final
Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute opener couldn’t send England through to the World Cup final after Croatia edged a draining contest 2-1 in extra-time.
It looked so good for Gareth Southgate’s men in the first half, but with former Spurs man Luka Modric pulling the strings, his country equalised before the end of the 90 and grabbed a winner in the second period of extra-time.
While it was heartbreak for the Three Lions, they can be proud of what they have achieved in Russia.
Southgate kept faith with the team which defeated Sweden 2-0 in the quarter-finals, so Tottenham Hotspur trio Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Trippier were in from the off.
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Two of the Spurs contingent helped England make a great start with Alli winning a free kick on the edge of the area after a foul by Modric.
Up stepped Mr Consistent Trippier and he added another string to his bow by curling the set-piece over the wall and in.
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At this point, England were in dreamland, but they couldn’t make the most of their early dominance with a second goal.
Harry Kane failed to score when played through and then hit the post with his rebound effort, though he was flagged offside.
Alli later picked out Jesse Lingard in space, but he curled wide from a promising position and England were eventually made to pay.
Ivan Perisic beat Kyle Walker to a cross into the area and flicked past Jordan Pickford to level and force extra-time.
Southgate introduced Spurs duo Danny Rose and Eric Dier to bring more impetus and energy, but it was the Croatian who looked the most likely to grab a winner and it duly arrived in the 109th minute.
Perisic headed the ball on and Mario Mandzukic fired home after getting away from John Stones for a split second.
England pushed for a way back into the contest, but it never arrived and Southgate’s team missed out on the chance of reaching the final.
Four of Spurs’ five players were on the pitch at the end and dejected, while Trippier was off receiving treatment.
It was a case of so near, yet so far, but all of the squad could be proud and will now try and raise their spirits ahead of Saturday’s third/fourth-place play-off with Belgium at 3pm.
The game will see potentially eight Tottenham players involved, although like the Group G encounter, both countries could decide to play weakened teams.