England, appearing in their first semi-final since 1990, had looked on course for their first final since 1966 as they led through Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free kick and totally dominated the opening half.
The contribution of Raheem Sterling remains a polarizing debate in England with the Manchester City player without a goal for his country since October, 2015 but Southgate says the forward's contribution in Russian Federation has been essential.
Trippier's father is a passionate football fan, famously erecting a flagpole to fly the England flag in his front yard and ignoring local council pleas to take it down.
"In the first half, give them credit they did play relatively well, in the second half bottle jobs".
Ivan Perisic, who cancelled out Kieran Trippier's early goal with a fine effort of his own, admitted it was a hard game but praised his team-mates' perseverance for coming through a successive third knockout game after extra-time.
A late Croatia onslaught was unable to complete the turnaround and England stepped things up again in extra-time, nearly retaking the lead when John Stones had a header cleared off the line by Vrsaljko in the 98th minute. So we won't win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago. While France and Belgium did fulfil that potential, two teams that were not expected to be in the semi-finals are Croatia and England.More news: TS Chris to become hurricane off NC coast
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GOALS: Trippier 5′, Perisic 68′, Mandzukic 109′.
"We were not certain what this team might be capable of", Southgate admitted to ITV, mindful of England's many recent failures.
Crawford was capped twice by the Three Lions in the early sixties and played on the same pitch as all of the triumphant England team of that era at some stage or another during a near fifteen-year career in the game. But despite his lean numbers, Sterling remains an important part of Gareth Southgate's team with his clever runs from deep that open up rival defences and the chemistry he shares with his fellow forwards. Martin Peters scored the other of England's four in the final.
England have already won a shootout in Russian Federation, against Colombia in the last 16.
Croatia now have the chance to win their first World Cup final when they face France in the final at 3am on Monday, NZ Time.
"Just as much as if I played and we lost every match, I don't think it would be my fault either. It's supposed to be fun, isn't it?" "A new generation is enjoying the magic of this World Cup run". Young team with huge potential.
The Juventus forward netted in the 109th minute to complete a remarkable comeback from a shattered Croatian team and take the small nation of little more than four million people into the World Cup final for the first time in their short history.