It's exactly two years since England's 2018 World Cup dream died against Croatia

  • Rob Swan

July 11 2018 is a day that England fans will never forget.

This was the fateful day that England’s 2018 World Cup dream died in Moscow.

Prior to the World Cup semi-final against Croatia, it genuinely felt like football would be coming home.

Croatia were a decent team but not as scary as, say, a Germany or Spain.

If the Three Lions could get past Zlatko Dalić’s side, they’d be in their first World Cup final since 1966 against France, who had beaten Belgium the previous evening.

England got off to the dream start at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute free-kick sent England fans - all those inside the stadium and millions watching on back at home - into raptures.

But for many fans, this is when life peaked as an England supporter.

Ivan Perisic’s 68th-minute equaliser forced extra-time before Mario Mandzukic broke England hearts with the winning goal in the 109th minute.

England had failed to capitalise on their biggest chance to reach a World Cup final for over half a century.

But it could - and perhaps should - have been a different story.


Midway through the first half, Harry Kane spurned a glorious opportunity to double England’s lead.

First, the Tottenham striker failed to square the ball to Raheem Sterling for what would have been a simple tap-in.

Instead, he struck a tame shot which was comfortably saved by Danijel Subasic.

Kane was then presented with a second chance moments later as the ball rebounded kindly to him, but the world-class centre-forward somehow proceeded to miss.


Even though Kane was hitting the ball from an acute angle, a striker of his quality really should have been converting that chance.

Or that’s what England fans thought at the time.

New footage emerged a day or so later which showed how Kane had managed to miss such a gilt-edged chance.

A slowed-down replay showed that Subasic had, in fact, pulled off a truly remarkable save.

Sticking his left leg out as far as it could stretch, the Croatian ‘keeper got the all-important touch which saw the ball ricochet off the post.

Without that save, it’s likely that England would have advanced to the World Cup final.

And who knows, perhaps England would now be the current world champions.

It was a bitter-sweet tournament for Kane, who became the first Englishman to win a World Cup Golden Boot since Gary Lineker in 1986.


Speaking after the match, he said: “It’s tough. We’re gutted, you know. We worked so hard. The fans were amazing.

“It was a tough game, a 50-50 game. I’m sure there was stuff we could have done better, but we worked as hard as we could.

“It hurts, it’ll hurt for a while, but we can hold our heads up high. It was a fantastic journey, we got further than anyone thought we could, we’ve just got to learn from it."

Although England fans think life peaked exactly two years ago today, perhaps even bigger highs are just around the corner.

With the likes of Mason Greenwood, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho all flourishing right now, the future looks extremely bright for the Three Lions.

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