Regrets mixed with pride as England fans digest World Cup heartbreak

World Cup- Belgium Training- Sochi Russia- Jun 16 2018 Belgium's assistant coach Thierry Henry with coach Roberto Martinez during training. Reuters

World Cup- Belgium Training- Sochi Russia- Jun 16 2018 Belgium's assistant coach Thierry Henry with coach Roberto Martinez during training. Reuters

"This team have taken us to a place we never thought we'd ever imagine we'd get to".

He said: "I just feel so disappointed".

With three straight extra-time matches, Croatia has played the equivalent a full 90-minute match more than France has through six games in Russian Federation. Just as the coach has won fans' adoration at the World Cup, so has his lookalike, British Airways pilot and long-time England football supporter Neil Rowe, 43.

"Want to know how insane we are?" said Fran Colak, a Croatian Saultite who had come down to the gathering to watch the semi-final game.

England may have crashed out of the 2018 World Cup, but there are signs the team could go one or two steps further for the follow-up in 2022.

England were beaten 2-1 by Croatia on Wednesday in Moscow, going down to Mario Mandzukic's extra-time goal having gone ahead in the fifth minute through Kieran Trippier.

The World Cup in Russian Federation has thrown up some stunning twists, turns and shocks, so it's perhaps fitting that its final game will feature the smallest nation to appear in the last stage of the tournament since 1950.

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Everyone has been out on the streets celebrating what we've achieved and that is a great source of pride for us. Now, finally, there is a team ready to join them in Croatian football's pantheon of heroes.

After winning a few yards outside the box just five minutes into the match, Kieran Trippier sent home a attractive free kick to give England an early 1-0 lead as the Three Lions fight for the chance to play France in the final.

"Anyone want a World Cup Final ticket", he asked in another post.

But he lamented England's failure to take full advantage of what appeared an unusually easy route to the final, avoiding most of the heavyweight teams in Russian Federation. We beat our record from 20 years ago.

In extra time Croatia took the lead and it finished 2-1.

"We've shown pride and passion".

"It's a huge step forward and they'll only get better in the future", he tweeted.

The Sun reacted to the loss with "You did us proud". But big football powers won't all be as weak together for a long time, you'd suspect. "We'll be there and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity seeing them in the World Cup". They faced Colombia, Sweden and Croatia in the knockout phase, all good teams but none of them a traditional power like Germany or Italy or Brazil, let alone France or Uruguay.

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