The summer of 2018 was a special time to be an England fan.
After 28 years of failing to make it past the final eight at the FIFA World Cup, the Three Lions had everybody dreaming again when they raced to the semi-finals of the 2018 tournament in Russia.
England scored a dramatic late winner against Tunisia, absolutely thrashed Panama with a first-half masterclass and narrowly lost 1-0 to Belgium to finish second in the group stages.
They then exorcised their penalty shootout demons with a thrilling victory over Colombia and came within one step of the final by comfortably putting Sweden to the sword in the quarter-finals.
And although Croatia always looked tough as semi-final opponents, there was a quiet understanding that England would never get an easier draw at that stage of a World Cup again.
- Every Premier League club’s worst ever signing (Arsenal-Liverpool)
- Matt Le Tissier voted the best Premier League player ever
- The top assist-goal combinations in Premier League history have been revealed
England 1-2 Croatia
You’re probably casting your mind back to that glorious summer already and it arguably peaked when Kieran Trippier fired home a stunning free-kick to give England an early lead.
Sadly, though, it wasn’t to last. The nation was left to trudge home disappointed as Ivan Perisic took the game to extra-time and Mario Mandzukic completed the turnaround after 109 minutes.
But as we all know, the situation could have been much different if England had taken advantage of their first-half domination and, yes, we are looking at you Harry Kane.
Remembering Harry Kane’s ‘miss’
It’s hard to blame the Tottenham striker too much when you consider he did win the Golden Boot for his six goals in Russia, but it could so easily have been seven.
After controversially deciding not to square the ball to Raheem Sterling, Kane had a near open goal when his initial shot was saved by Danijel Subašić and rebounded back to him.
Inexplicably, Kane failed to take advantage, leaving most of the country thinking that he’d struck the post, but replays a few days after the game showed that something remarkable had happened.
Kane hadn’t missed an open goal, but rather Subašić had dramatically sprinted back towards his goal and came sliding in with his foot to divert the ball on to the upright. Incredible scenes.
The slow-motion footage remains both astonishing and heart-breaking to this day, so check it out down below:
Still heart-wrenching two years later
So, so, so, so, so, so, so, so close to sending England 2-0 up.
Considering Subašić would later be panned for his questionable display in the final defeat to France, it’s all the more painful that he was able to pull off such an incredible stop against England.
And in Kane’s defence, Domagoj Vida was lurking on the goal-line just behind him to make a dramatic clearance if the Three Lions striker had gotten his foot beneath the ball any more.
That being said, the debate would have been completely redundant if Kane had passed the ball to Sterling who, surely to god, wouldn’t have been able to miss in the first place.
But hey, you can’t change history and credit to Croatia for winning. That doesn’t mean that the England players won’t be out for revenge at Euro 2021, mind…