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Croatia defeats England 2-1 to advance to the World Cup 2018 finals

MOSCOW — Croatia advanced to the World Cup final for the first time after beating England 2-1 in extra time on Wednesday. Mario Mandzukic scored the clincher in the second half of extra time in the semifinal to secure a spot in Sunday’s final against France.

Mandzukic latched onto Perisic’s header in the 109th minute and rifled it past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, sparking wild celebrations in the corner.

England had gone ahead with a free kick just five minutes in, dominated play and appeared headed to its first World Cup final since 1966. Then the second half started and it was as if a different Croatian team had replaced the lethargic one.

Ivan Perisic tied the score in the 68th minute, Mario Mandzukic got the go-ahead goal in the 109th and Croatia shocked England with a 2-1 victory.

When the final whistle blew and they knew they were going to their first World Cup final, the Croatians ran to their jumping and cheering fans in their iconic red-and-white checkered jerseys.

Croatia joined an exclusive club of 13 nations that has advanced to a World Cup final in a tournament where powers Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain made early exits.

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