England have come to the end of the World Cup, losing 2-1 to Croatia during Wednesday night’s semi-final, but manager Gareth Southgate has saluted his men for overachieving.
The game got off to a promising start for the Three Lions as Kieran Trippier put them ahead in the 5th minute with a stunning free kick, after Dele Alli was brought down just outside the box.
But despite creating chances and Croatia struggling with their attack, Croatia equalised through Ivan Perisic in the 68th minute, forcing the game into extra time.
It was Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic who won the match for Croatia, as he made no mistake in the second-half of extra time, striking a low left-footed shot past Jordan Pickford.
Southgate who has had praised heaped on him for his calm leadership told FIFA.com.
“At the moment we all feel the pain of the defeat. Did we expect to be in this position? I don’t think realistically any of us did.
“But when you’ve got to this point and you’ve played in the way we have and played as well as we have in the first half you want to take those opportunities in life.
“The dressing room is a very difficult place at the moment. But what I will say is I’m remarkably proud of a group of players who have really advanced.
“I think the reaction of the supporters to them, compared to two years ago, tells them that, first and foremost, that experiences with England can be positive, the country are very proud of them and the way that they’ve played and there will in time be a lot of positives to take.”
England’s official Twitter said Russia 2018 was “only the beginning”, adding: “We hope we made your proud”.
They now face Belgium in the third place playoff on Saturday in Saint Petersburg.