'This is a miracle' - Mandzukic celebrates Croatia comeback


Croatia played like lions to beat England and reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup final, striker Mario Mandzukic - who netted what proved to be the winning goal - says.

"This is a miracle," said Mandzukic." Only great teams can be as brave as we were and fight back from a goal down against teams like England."

Croatia now face France in the final after the 2-1 extra-time win.

"We've played our hearts out throughout the tournament. I am happy with my performances so far but I am here for the team. We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final."

Coach Zlatko Dalic described the performance as fantasy.

Dalic, who was appointed in October, days before their final group qualifying match against Ukraine, said there was more to come.

"We are deservedly in the final," he said. "What the lads played tonight is fantasy, they've made history.

"We haven't said our last word, there is still one more game to go. God willing, we will be world champions."

Croatia had to come from behind after Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free-kick put England in a commanding position as they went on to dominate the first half.

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.

Midfielder Ivan Rakatic was impressed with the way they fought back after going a goal down so early in the match.

"Mentally strong team," Rakatic said. "It's just unbelievable to get back in the game in this way."

England now meet Belgium in the third-place play-off.

Source: AAP