England eye glory as Croatia halt Russia

England eye glory as Croatia halt Russia

Croatian players celebrate after winning the quarterfinal match against Russia in Sochi, Russia, on Saturday. AP/PTI

England were looking forward to their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 while Russian fans thanked their disappointed players after their fairytale World Cup run was halted by Croatia.

Gareth Southgate’s young team swept Sweden aside 2-0 on Saturday, sparking mass celebrations in England, where at least 20 million people watched the match on TV.

They will face Croatia, who had to endure a strength-sapping penalty shootout for the second consecutive match, in front of 80,000 people in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

But first Roberto Martinez’s exciting Belgian side will attempt to reach their first ever World Cup final when they play favourites France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

England are basking in the team’s run to the last four of the World Cup as fans start to believe that they can lift the trophy for the first time since 1966.

“Southgreat”, trumpeted The Sun on Sunday. “Cry God for Harry, England and St George!” said the Sunday Telegraph.

Russian fans paid tribute to their team, who exited the tournament after their defeat on penalties following 120 gruelling minutes of football.

The Russians were the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams at the World Cup but, just as in the previous round against Spain, they refused to die despite enjoying just 36% of possession against a superior Croatian team.

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