Croatia reaches World Cup for 1st time, beats England 2-1

  • Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, sits on the ground after he fell over a photographer when celebrating his side’s second goal during the semifinal match between Croatia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

  • Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, center, celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the semifinal match between Croatia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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

Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute and Croatia shocked England 2-1 Wednesday.

Croatia, the first team in 28 years to come from behind to win a World Cup semifinal match, will play France for the title on Sunday in its biggest sporting moment since becoming an independent nation in 1991.

France, which won its only title at home in 1998, will have an extra day of rest after beating Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday. Croatia will be coming off its third straight extra-time match.

Defender Sime Vrsaljko kept the score even by heading a shot off the goal line about 10 minutes before Mandzukic scored.

Kevin Trippier curled in a free kick for England in the fifth minute. Ivan Perisic tied the score in the 68th minute.

But football will not be coming home, and there will be no title to match the 1966 triumph at Wembley Stadium. Harry Kane & Co. will deal with the same disappointment that felled Shearer and Platt, Gazza and Wazza, Beckham and Gerrard.

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More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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