Hosts Russia disappointed but exit World Cup stage with pride

Kevin De Bruyne is the best ginger in world football

GETTY IMAGES Kevin De Bruyne is the best ginger in world football

"They're like me - this is the most relaxed we have been, but England is obviously the first choice". "Russians just want to buy us drinks".

England fans around the world launched into wild celebrations but as the game wore on the celebrations turned to commiserations as Croatia first equalised through Ivan Perisic and then Mario Mandzukic scored the match victor in extra time.

While many outsiders view that unexpected Croatian run to the last four as a great success, inside the country many share the view of the team's then manager Miroslav Blazevic that it was a missed opportunity.

Such is the interest in England's first World Cup semi-final since 1990 that the system crashed when London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced 30,000 free tickets would be made available to watch the game in Hyde Park via a ballot.

"I'm glad that I scored goals but the most important thing is to help the team".

"I've known Luka for a number of years, not only with the national team. Thank God everything is fine with him".

This is just days after Croatia's Football Federation (HNS) sacked their assistant coach over a video he posted after Saturdays' victory to Russia.

"I was concentrated throughout the match but after Rakitic's penalty, it came bursting out of me", he said. "We have succeeded I believe, but it is time to take a step forward".

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She added that she is flying back to Croatia and would be watching the game as part of a joint birthday football celebration. Mia Ĺ etula, a Croatian student at Bournemouth University , admitted she will be cheering for England's opponents tonight.

The Balkan side is to face England, champions of the 1966 World Cup, on Wednesday at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. "We like to play against teams like this because we have really fast players and it will be a really open game, not like today or the game against Denmark".

"We have been watching England in all their games".

And physical preparation. if the player is not in good physical shape, he will not play well in a World Cup.

France and Belgium muscled their way past big teams to reach the last four, and fought out a tight battle last night.

Croatia's 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage was a clear signal that the team led by midfield maestro Luka Modric was a real threat with their clever passing and movement.

"I've got a amusing feeling that the momentum is so good, and, you know, especially now that we're all going to turn up with special Gareth waistcoats, and that can only help can't it", said fan Lee Walkup, 50.

"Once in a lifetime - Modric's "Fiery Ones" fight for World Cup final!" read the Sportske Novosti daily front page. "Maybe we can change something".

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