England players hailed as ‘Heroes’ by British media after World Cup heartbreak

England players hailed as ‘Heroes’ by British media after World Cup heartbreak

England players were inconsolable at the final whistle as it began to sink in that the World Cup was not "coming home" and Balotelli appeared to revel in their misery.

The Croatian Football Federation are still to serve the second game of a two-match punishment imposed by UEFA in 2015.

England players walk down the tunnel after the match against Croatia.

Croatia could hardly believe it after Mario Mandzukic found the back of the net in extra time to defeat England in the Fifa World Cup semifinals.

"Mentally strong team", midfielder Ivan Rakatic said.

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Croatia completed an impressive comeback against Gareth Southgate's side after Kieran Trippier opened the scoring in only the 5th minute at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"It was a matter of time before we would score".

It was a different game from then on, with Croatia suddenly playing with accuracy and goal as England lost their shape and composure, though Kane missed a chance to win it in stoppage time when he headed wide from a free kick.

It was no surprise that Croatia cavorted on the pitch in celebration with fans and family long after beating England in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Wednesday night, but a wiser head might have ushered them quietly to ice bath and bed.

Southgate said: "The biggest thing is you could see [from the reaction of] the supporters, you can tell what the players have given and I can't ask anymore".

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"We're gutted", said Harry Kane, still on course to finish as the tournament's top goalscorer with six strikes in Russian Federation.

Croatia continued to probe and following a lack of concentration in defence, Mario Mandzukic pounced on a lose ball and hit a left-footed strike beyond Jordan Pickford's reach.

- Who has the edge in the World Cup final? "We knew what they were doing and where", he said.

Only Neymar and Kevin De Bruyne have rivalled Trippier in terms of chances created at the World Cup, and the Tottenham defender produced his champagne moment of a breakout tournament for the 27-year-old with England's opening goal.

"Maybe the English team should have respected us more, especially when you consider where our players play their football, but this is football and sport. It is what it is and so we will try to play that game with as much pride as we can and try to finish on a high", he said. We thought we were just good enough, we thought we could have done that. We should have killed the game before extra time, but this is an awesome achievement for us, a dream come true.

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