England manager Gareth Southgate reflects on World Cup exit

Wayne Rooney David Beckham and Paul Scholes

Barely five minutes into the game and Luka Modric brought down Dele Alli on the edge of the penalty area and England took an early lead.

In Moscow, Croatia fans said they were taken aback by their side's win.

With the bonus of an extra day's rest and Croatia having been taken to extra-time for the third time in succession, France will be far the fresher of the two sides in Sunday's final. It is highly unlikely the first trophy in your career is going to be the World Cup.

Harry Kane ran the Croatia global ragged, twice getting the better of him to set Tottenham up 2-0 within the opening 15 minutes, eventually prompting Reds manager Jurgen Klopp to haul him off.

Many had predicted England would have the advantage as time went on because of that but Modric has criticised the media for those thoughts. However, unlike England at the 1990 tournament, it was again third-time lucky thanks to Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal.

England had surprised their followers, the nation and other observers with an impressive showing in the World Cup.

"We showed again that we were not exhausted - we dominated the game mentally and physically".

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Meanwhile, England captain Kane struggled to hide his pain, as he admitted his team-mates failed to make the most of their chances to extend their adventure in Russian Federation. We dominated mentally and physically.

"We've left everything out there, you can look at the goals and the chances, but I don't think over the six or seven weeks we've been together we could've given any more".

"There are a lot of ifs and buts now". The big game was even being screened in LA.

It was a painful defeat for Belgium, foiled at the semifinal for the second time in their history, as the clock ticks on their so-called "golden generation" of players.

"We were motivated and what I told these players before the game was "there's no pressure, no nerves, don't lose your head - you've reached the semi-final, be proud and enjoy your football". That is why this hurts so much.

Modric will feature in a midfield that consists of the likes of Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic, while Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic and Dejan Lovren are just some of the names in a Croatian team expected to be England's toughest test yet. "We wanted to give the fans a final, but we have to dust ourselves down and go again in a couple of years".

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