Croatia lowest ranked team in history to reach World Cup final

Croatia became the lowest ranked team ever to reach a World Cup final when they defeated England 2-1 in extra-time in the second semifinal of FIFA World Cup 2018 in Moscow on Wednesday.

Croatia are also the smallest nation to reach the final of a World Cup in 68 years (since Uruguay in 1950). Croatia has a population of 4,000,000 people. This has been a sensational journey for the Croats, who had last reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998.

 

They had defeated 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland in the group stages before putting up gutsy performances in the knockout stages. Croatia had won both their knockout matches before the semifinals via penalty shootouts. In the round of 16, the Croats had defeated Denmark 3-2 in penalties before overcoming Russia in the quarter-finals 4-3 in a tense penalty shootout.

Croatia's semifinal against England also went into extra-time but Mario Mandzukic scored in the second half to ensure his team did not have to go through the agony of another penalty shootout.

GUTSY CROATIA FIGHT BACK AGAIN

Croatia became the first team to reach the final of a World Cup after being 0-1 down in all their knockout matches: they were trailing against Denmark, Russia and England.

Croatia showed magnificent resilience to come from behind and beat England 2-1 on Wednesday as Mario Mandzukic's extra-time goal sent them into their first World Cup final and sparked celebrations across the Balkan nation.

England had looked on course for their first final since 1966 as they led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half.

But Croatia, in their first semi since 1998, levelled through Ivan Perisic after 68 minutes and then looked the more dangerous side.

It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russia on penalties.

But instead of flagging, they seemed to gain in energy and avoided a third shootout when Mandzukic struck with a well-taken low shot in the 109th minute.

Since their dream run to the last four in 1998, their first tournament as an independent nation, Croatia have failed to get past the group stage, with every subsequent failing team being compared unfavourably with the heroes of France.

This group, however, have gone one better and will get the chance to avenge the defeat of 20 years ago when they face the French on Sunday back at the same Luzhniki Stadium.

Tag: Sports

 
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