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Croatia produced a comeback of heroic proportions to beat England 2-1 in extra time on Wednesday and reach the World Cup final, an unreal feat for such a small country. Zlatko Dalic's men were lucky to be just one goal behind at half-time; as they came back with a much stronger and more dynamic performance, they had England on the ropes after levelling the score, but failed to finish the job. Still, they somehow found it within themselves to score in their third extra-time period in as many matches.


Again, psychology played a major role here; trailing at the break, Croatia came back like a team possessed and pumped up the volume to win. They were a completely different team after Ivan Perisic scored, took control and dominated up until the final whistle.


By any standard, the first 45 minutes were subpar. The defence was shaky, the midfield stifled and the attack isolated. The left-back position is still very much a weak link.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Sometimes not changing anything at all is the hardest thing to do. Dalic's initial plan might not have been bulletproof, but he took note and surely gave different instructions to players in key areas; to full-backs to be more aggressive and more frequently overlap with wingers, to Luka Modric to take more initiative and move his field of operation a little further up the field. And he didn't make a single sub in 90 minutes, leaving the lads to ride on the momentum.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Danijel Subasic, 8 -- Wasn't seriously challenged too many times, but his interventions were timely and confident.

DF Sime Vrsaljko, 9
 -- Wasn't even supposed to play due to injury, but somehow the doctors made him available. And what a performance it was; dangerous offensively, assisting on Perisic's goal with a sharp cross, responsible defensively.

DF Dejan Lovren, 9 -- Excellent in the air, dominant in challenges, a rock in defence. Took better control of his temper this time as well.

DF Domagoj Vida, 9 -- Produced numerous clearances and interventions, frustrating the English attackers. Despite pressure from those in the crowd who booed him, he remained calm.

DF Ivan Strinic, 5 -- Being aware of his weak-link status, Strinic was given time and space on the ball, but he didn't do much with it. Particularly poor at crossing and seemed bereft of confidence.

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