Croatian players' kids delight World Cup fans with post-win scratch match

Brian Botterill giving Gareth the thumbs up in Southgate Road

Croatia reached the semifinals at the 1998 World Cup with a team led by striker Davor Suker that beat Germany in the quarterfinals before losing to host France.

Croatia take on England in the second semi-final of the World Cup. The ball rebounded nearly out of play, then sat up for Kane to take another shot from less than two yards at a tight angle.

Loud cheers rang out after each goal, fans waved the red, white and blue national flag, and after the final whistle Croatian TV showed wild celebrations breaking out in towns and cities.

"We, as a team, have made incredible progress and probably got to a stage where at the start of the tournament we would have considered a success".

He was in charge of a superb team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy that was knocked out at the quarter-final stage in a penalty shootout by Diego Maradona´s Argentina.

"I know everything about Croatia, I have lived the country intensely in all my life, since its history on all the sports of the country".

England will play Belgium in the third-place match on Saturday, so there's still a chance that Southgate and the team won't walk away totally empty-handed.

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"But we came to win this World Cup".

The rest of us must also recognise how successful these players can be - those who became used to winning with the Under 21s and the age groups below that.

The biggest concern for Croatia ahead of Sunday's final is fatigue, as they also required extra time and penalties to come through against Denmark in the last 16 and hosts Russian Federation in the quarter-finals.

Croatia's fairytale run to the World Cup final is a footballing "miracle" built on a foundation of teamwork and unity which has seen them outlast sides reliant on brilliant individual talent, coach Zlatko Dalic said on Thursday.

It's tough to call any match at the World Cup "meaningless" - the tournament only happens once every four years, so every game holds a certain value just on how rarely they occur. "I'm remarkably proud of the group of players", he added.

We had all got excited and dreamt that it would be us facing France in Sunday's final - but why shouldn't we dream?

Ultimately we were not good enough to win it, but we can accept that - as a team, they still far exceeded all of our expectations, and I would congratulate them for that. "I thank him for everything he did at Real Madrid".

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