But we've fallen just a bit short. "The whole thing is beyond where we thought we might go". Tonight in the end we weren't quite there but the team will be stronger for that'. "I'm really excited about what this squad can do in the future", said Kieran Davidson, a fan from Stockport who had booked a last-minute trip to Moscow after England booked their semi-final place. That's what we aimed to do in the long-term. We've proved to ourselves and our country that is possible. Now we have a new benchmark, a new level of expectation.
"He's captained the team brilliantly throughout this tournament and I can't ask more of him as a captain or as a man over the last three weeks". "That makes me proud". "But I also don't want to miss England in the World Cup final", said David, a 42-year-old from Leeds. For me, that's what sport should be about.
Yet while it was complete focus on the job in hand as the players prepared for what is the most high-pressure game of their global careers, the relaxed vibe surrounding the England base camp in Repino remained.
"People say I had a hard season but I don't agree with that", Lovren said. We should be proud of that.
The Croatians went into Russian Federation as the 20th-ranked team in the world, but in particular their midfield talents of Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic meant they were fancied by many as dark horses for a decent run.
Pivac to succeed Gatland as Wales coach
The former New Zealand Police constable has beaten fellow Kiwis Dave Rennie and Scott Robinson to the post, which will be vacated by Gatland after Japan 2019.
But now Lovren has a World Cup final to look forward to.
Southgate admitted that Croatia deserved to win, having dominated for long periods of the match after Trippier's goal.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara. We knew they would fight for everything.
"It was a very hard game".
"We managed to get through that and regain our composure". But great credit to them they created the moments that won them the game. Few are as accomplished as Croatia, even when they are on the brink of exhaustion following two successive penalty shootouts, and as England ran out of ideas, Luka Modric was able to pick holes in their defensive lines time and again. Had Southgate's players faced a Brazil, France, Uruguay or Portugal before this stage, they might not have made it so far because the lack of service to Harry Kane would really have told against such high-quality opposition.
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