England 2-0 Sweden
H. Marguire (30′)
Dele Alli (58′)
Croatia 2(4)-2(3) Russia
A. Kramaric (39′) D. Cheryshev (31′)
D. Vida (100′) M. Fernandes (115′)
Croatia vs Russia
They were the lowest team of the FIFA rankings among all the participants. But they played beyond imagination and promoted to the second round quite easily. Then they gave a surprise in the round of 16, beating Spain in the penalty shoot-out. The journey was excellent for the host country. But Russian’s party has been perished in another tie-breaker.
First three quarter-finals were decided between the regulation time of those matches. All the thrills were deposited for the last one. Penalty shoot-out gave a tragic result for Russia this time. They could hold their nerves in the tie-breaker against Spain, but Croatia had the better mental skill this night.
Russia was not on top from the first moment. Croatia attacked well and made chances but their luck didn’t support them earlier. Akinfeev saved Rebics cross which could harm the hosts too early. Rebic’s header or Rakitic’s free kick could get into the target.
But the opening goal was scored against the Croats by the wonder-boy Cheryshev. His curler from outside the box got into the top-left corner of Croatian goalpost on 31st minute. 8 minutes later, Kramaric’s strong header produced the equalizer for Croatia.
Akinfeev was tremendous once again. He saved some great efforts from Croatia. But the most nervous moment for the hosts was the close-range shot by unmarked Perisic. Unbelievably, that was missed by everyone except the post. That was the easiest chance in the 90 minutes of the play.
The first goal of the extra time was scored by Vida, on the 10th minute of the extra half-an-hour. But the elimination of the Russians was delayed by a great header from Fernandes.
The first shot of the tie-breaker was a poor one from Smolov. Subasic made a cool-headed save, then Brozovic gave Croatia the lead. Though Akinfeev saved Croatia’s second one (Kovacic), he couldn’t get relaxed for a while. The next one was a horrible miss by Fernandes. He kept the hope alive for his team in the extra time, also he kicked the hope away from the target in the penalty shoot-out. Everyone scored after that shot, so Croatia won the match.
Though the hosts couldn’t carry on, they have won the hearts of many people. In the semifinals, Croatia will face England.
England vs Sweden
England have promoted to the World Cup semi-final after 28 years. Maguire’s maiden international goal and Dele Alli’s perfect finish gave them the required assurance to win the quarter-final against Sweden.
A brilliant header from Maguire took his team ahead on 30th minute. Young’s corner found him where he jumped above the Swedish defenders and deposited the ball into the net. It was his first international goal.
On 58th minute, Alli’s header doubled the lead. Before that, England missed some easy opportunities. Sterling missed some golden chances from 1-on-1 position.
Throughout the world cup, goalkeepers are being in the center of the talk. Pickford has been brilliant in this tournament. In the quarter-final, he saved some goal-scoring shots as well.
Just two step remain. This world cup has already given a lot of happiness, sorrow, surprises and farewells. The number of the contestants has decreased into 4. Will this world cup get a new champion? Two of them never won the cup. But France is so strong from the beginning. England probably got their best combination of last few world cups. But surely it will be an European nation- Belgium, Croatia, England or France.
Russia’s Dream-Journey Comes to an End
Image Source : Getty Images
Image source : FIFA
France’s Triumph: Second World Cup Title
|M. Mandzukic (OG, 18′)||I. Perisic (28′)|
|A. Griezmann (P., 38′)||M. Mandzukic (69′)|
|P. Pogba (59′)|
|K. Mbappe (65′)|
Didier Deschamps is now only the third man in world cup history who win the title as a player and a coach. 20 years ago, it was his motherland where they raised the trophy after beating Brazil in the final. Today, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, his team fetched a tremendous victory against a dream team of Croatia. This is a glorious moment, the ‘greatest show on earth’ ends with a bunch of records.
First part of the night was Croatia’s part. They rarely lost the possession of the ball and built up some very good attacks. They almost got a goal on 11th minute when Perisic got a lofted pass from Strinic inside the box. But he couldn’t get enough time to control that.
The moment of the most importance was the free-kick for France which was ‘awarded’ for a foul just outside the box. Honestly, Griezmann fell on the ground for no serous reason and won the free-kick. But the most terrible thing happened after the free-kick. Griezmann curved his shot into the middle of the box and the man who jumped highest was Mandzukic. He couldn’t clear it and just managed to deflect it into their own goal. It was the twelfth suicide goal of the tournament, which is a record. But this goal is the only own goal scored in world cup final match. Mandzukic surely doesn’t like to create this type of records.
But the lead didn’t last long for France. Perisic scored a stunning goal which gave their hope back. It was only 28 minutes on the referee’s clock.
Though Croatia controlled most of the time of the game, France utilized their all possible chances. Another record, a penalty from VAR review is a new history in world cup final match. Replays confirmed that Perisic took his hand away from the body and the ball deflected from the hand. The referee saw that many times and then blew the whistle signaling the penalty spot. Griezmann converted it into another goal deceiving the goalkeeper Subasic. First half ended with 2-1 scoreline.
But France took the advantage of the tiredness of Croatian players who played for six hours in last three matches. On 59th minute, they made it 3-1. Teenage sensation Mbappe crossed the ball in and Griezmann passed that to Pogba. His first shot was blocked but he attempted the second one and gets the goal. 6 minutes later, Mbappe himself sealed the match by scoring the fourth.
On 69th minute, Lloris’s terrible mistake caused a ridiculous goal against France. Mandzukic, spreading his leg, surprisingly got a goal from a mistaken shot of French keeper. This goal made a new record. This match is now the highest scoring world cup final. Before that, Argentina beat West Germany by 3-2 at the final of 1986.
France have won their second trophy and it’s under the training of 1998’s captain. Deschamps is certainly going to be the hero again, even though supporters didn’t want him to continue as the coach.
The golden ball is achieved by Luka Modric, the captain of unlucky Runners-up team. The golden boot is gifted to the England captain Harry Kane for scoring 6 goals. Thibaut Courtois wins the Golden glove. The best young player is none other than magnificent wonder-boy Mbappe. Spain get the Fair Play award. An award is never given, a thankful applause for the hosts for giving a mesmerizing tournament. See you World Cup, 4 years later, in Qatar.
Belgium Claimed the Third Spot
|T. Meunier (4′)|
|E. Hazard (82′)|
Belgium ended the world cup with a victory which doesn’t really matter in the race of the title. They finished with their best position in a world cup. They won the play off for the third place against England. Meunier and Hazard scored for their team. Harry Kane remained pale in this match as well. Still he is the highest goal-scorer of the tournament.
Belgium got a flying start in the match. Just 4 minutes after the kick off, Chadli sent a brilliant cross to Meunier, who beat a couple of defenders to reach the ball and poked into the net.
Belgium dominated the play from the beginning. De Bruine was denied by Pickford. Then Lukaku got a chance which could’ve been a goal. He just carried the ball to much and Pickford did no mistake again.
The mos goal-scorer of the tournament so far, Kane, missed a good chance on 23rd minute. Then Belgium missed some opportunities to double their lead. But an equalizer was almost brought by Dier, on 70th minute. He chipped the ball over Courtois who was coming forward. Alderweireld somehow managed to clear that ball from inches outside the goal.
Meunier almost got his second one, on 79th minute. But Pickford’s brilliant save stopped his powerful volley which would’ve been a goal in 95 percent occasions.
The last nail in England’s coffin was put by Eden Hazard on 82nd minute. His goal doubled their lead and the match ended with the same scoreline.
Belgium beat England twice in this world cup. In the group round, they won by the minimum difference. Only one match remaining in the world cup, that’s the final.
After few hours, France or Croatia will celebrate the historical victory. They’ll remain ‘the world champions’ until the final match of world cup 2022 in Qatar.
France Again, or a New Era?
France won the world cup once, at their home-ground, defeating Brazil by 3-0. They got another chance to win the cup after 8 years. Italy won the final after the penalty shoot-out. Most importantly, Zinedine Zidane was sent off by showing red card. But this year, they have the best opportunity to win the best trophy of the football world.
Griezmann is playing so well throughout the tournament. Matuidi or Pogba can be lethal for any opponents anytime. They have a quality defending side including Varane, Umtiti, Pavard. Mbappe has been outstanding, he might be considered as the most consistent young striker of this world cup. Lloris has saved them from any kind of disaster in the crucial times.
On the other hand, Croatia never qualified for the world cup final before this time. But a brilliant combination between the experienced players has paid off. They are marching towards glory. Modric, Mandzukic, Rakitic and others including the savior Subasic are the light-bearers of the Croatian dream. They played semifinal in their first presence in the world cup as a independent nation. But the next 3 times they played the main round of the tournament, they had eliminated from the first round.
ROAD TO FINAL
|2-0 (vs Nigeria)||2-1 (vs Australia)|
|3-0 (vs Argentina)||1-0 (vs Peru)|
|2-1 (vs Iceland)||0-0 (vs Denmark)|
|1(3)-1(2) (vs Denmark)||4-3 (vs Argentina)|
|2(4)-2(3) (vs Russia)||2-0 (vs Uruguay)|
|2-1 (vs England)||1-0 (vs Belgium)|
France and Croatia met once in the world cup finals. On 8th July 1998, host France won that match by 2-1. Like the 2nd semi-final of this world cup, the losers got the lead first. But two strikes from Lilian Thuram broke the dream of Croatia and kept their own flag waving.
Can France repeat that history and achieve their second trophy? Will Croatia let them do that? They have all the abilities to win their first ever world cup. We have to wait, not a long time, till 15 July. 90 minutes, or 120, or a penalty shoot-out in Moscow will decide the kings of the world football for next four years.