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England out of the World Cup but Gareth Southgate has relit the fire | Martha Kelner

After an electrifying start to the semi-final, the nation’s hopes were dashed by a fiercely determined Croatian team

The dream came to a crushing end for England in Moscow on Wednesday as their first World Cup semi-final appearance for 28 years ended in defeat to Croatia. Unlike Italia 90, when England last reached this stage of the tournament, the viewing public and 10,000 England fans inside the Luzhniki stadium were spared the agony of penalties.

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic administered the fatal blow after 109 exhausting minutes. The jubilant players sprinted to celebrate a 2-1 victory in front of their supporters, while England’s shattered bodies fell to the turf. Manager Gareth Southgate entered the pitch in an attempt to console them but there was little he could say to soften the blow after his side had led the game for more than an hour following a fifth-minute goal.

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