Croatia’s superior experience was the telling factor in their 2-1 World Cup semi-final final victory over England, according to former Three Lions defender Rio Ferdinand.
Gareth Southgate’s men flew out of the blocks and took the lead in just the fifth minute when Kieran Trippier curled a superb free kick into the top corner. England dominated the game during the first 45 minutes minutes, but were unable to get that all important second goal.
However, Croatia stepped things up a gear in the second period, with Ivan Perisic volleying home from close range to send the game in to extra, before Mario Mandzukic broke English hearts in the 109th minute when he took advantage of some tired defending to slot a tidy finish past Jordan Pickford.
Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand reckons that the experience of Croatia’s big name players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic was what eventually made the difference in the Luzhniki Stadium.
However, Ferdinand could not speak highly enough of the overall performance of Gareth Southgate’s men in Russia this summer:
“I think experience was a telling factor today. This Croatian team had medals all over the squad but now is not the time to knitpick. This bunch of players have brought the nation together and the fans haven’t sung like this for years,” Ferdinand told the BBC.
“We wanted this team to come out with an identity and a philosophy of playing, and I think they have done that. Where we were sat in the stadium, people around us were impressed with England’s football and their ability to play out from the back.
“Kieran Trippier’s delivery of the ball was brilliant and what a tournament he has had. There were question marks over Jordan Pickford but he was the best choice in goal and this team can develop into something very strong.
“I have been an admirer of John Stones for a long time, and he defended unbelievably today. We have got a very inexperienced young squad but they have grown and will continue to do so.”