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Roy Keane criticised John Stones for his reaction to Mario Mandzukic's winner

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England's World Cup dream ended at the semi-final stage on Wednesday night.

Although Croatia posed an ominous challenge in the final four, there was a quiet feeling that England would never have an easier passage to the World Cup final.

And it all started so perfectly with Kieran Trippier sending the country into raptures with a superb free-kick just five minutes into the game.

However, England couldn't hold onto their lead in the end with Ivan Perisic forcing extra-time when he prodded home in front of Kyle Walker's diving header.

Fast forward to the 109th minute and it was heartbreak for the Three Lions.

Croatia 2-1 England

Mario Mandzukic swept the ball past Jordan Pickford on his left-foot after some questionable England defending, booking Croatia's place in the final as a result.

The result has since been met with positivity from England and rightfully so, but the defeat was certainly avoidable and the winning goal falls into that category too.

Roy Keane was present in the ITV studio for the game and wasn't happy with John Stones' role in the Mandzukic goal as well as his reaction to it.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH62-CRO-ENG

Keane slams Stones on ITV

Keane explained: "We've talked about how comfortable England are playing out from the back and that it's in their DNA and Stones is comfortable on the ball but you still have the act of defending. Players smelling danger.

"Stones is ball watching and then when the goal goes in he's looking at people as if he should have got a shout. You're not going to get a shout in a World Cup semi-final. You've got to be aware of it and deal with it yourself.

"He does get caught out defensively."

In the opinion of Keane, not only was Stones guilty of ball-watching but a failure to accept responsibility for the goal.

Harsh or not, Gary Neville concurred.

"Stones has switched off for that goal and he'll know he's made a mistake and he'll have to carry that with him," Neville noted shortly afterwards.

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH62-CRO-ENG

That's the cruel reality of playing for England at the top level and they'll certainly be players within the squad wondering what could have been.

However, this is a young England team and there's every chance they could go onto improve at Euro 2020 and beyond.

Gareth Southgate has brought a belief back to the England set-up and for all the heartbreak of Wednesday night, there's great reason to feel proud and optimistic.

Who do you think will win the World Cup - France or Croatia? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Topics:
Football
Croatia Football
Jordan Pickford
Ivan Perisic
Mario Mandzukic
John Stones
England Football
World Cup
Kieran Trippier
Kyle Walker
Gary Cahill

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