Rick Zamperin: English hearts broken, again, at World Cup

Click to play video: 'Croatia fans celebrates win against England in World Cup semifinals'
Croatia fans celebrates win against England in World Cup semifinals
Fans of Croatia's soccer team celebrated, bringing out flares and flags on Wednesday after their team won the World Cup semifinal match against England. The team will take on France in the final – Jul 11, 2018

Poor England. They were so close, yet, so far.

On the verge of making their first FIFA World Cup final since winning it all in 1966, English football fans (soccer, here in North America) are gutted after their country blew a 1-0 lead against Croatia and lost 2-1 in extra time in the semifinals.

So much for my Belgium vs. England final, eh? LOL.

The Three Lions started Wednesday’s match with a firecracker of a free kick by Kieran Trippier that found the top corner in the fifth minute and sent English fans into a frenzy.

Even going into halftime, England held on to their one-goal advantage and all seemed to be going well.

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But the Croatians came out of the break a determined unit and in the 68th minute, English hearts skipped a beat when Ivan Perisic scored an incredible equalizer that put the game on its edge.

The game seemed destined for penalties in the second half of extra time, that is, until Croatian stalwart Mario Mandzukic slipped behind the English defender John Stones and scored the eventual clincher in the 109th minute of play.

It was a moment Stones would love to have back, but he can’t.

Despite their fabulous play throughout the tournament, England has again fallen short.

Fielding their youngest ever team in a World Cup, the Three Lions have a very bright future on the pitch, but they will not bring football home this year.

It will be Croatia against heavily-favoured France in Sunday’s final.

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