With chants of ‘it’s coming home’ and the nations expectations on their shoulders, the England team face down against a Croatia team that many thought would be an easy match to reach the final.
Despite a wonderful start through a 20 yard free kick by Kieran Trippier after only 5 minutes, England were unable to take advantage of any of the multitude of chances they created for themselves.
It was this inability to get a second that seemed to give Croatia a new lease of life in the second half, and lo and behold in the 68th minute Croatia equalised through Perisic.
Neither team was able to break the deadlock, which was surprising considering the level of play and talent on show on the pitch.
Extra time and penalties loomed, but England started to look tired and unfortunately in the 109th minute Mandzukic shattered the hopes and dreams of the millions of England fans watching worldwide.
Just like that, ‘it’ was no longer ‘coming home’.
As bitterly disappointed as the team will be that they didn’t make it all the way to the final, there are so many positives to take away from this World Cup, not least the team itself which overachieved and showed a level of passion, pride, hunger and teamwork that has been sorely lacking from previous national squads.
Gareth Southgate should be celebrating his decision to give our young players a chance to show that we can get past the starting line. Playing exciting football and always looking positive, this is a team to now work on for the Euros and beyond.
As a nation we should be extremely proud of what the team has achieved, and be very excited to look to the future with this team.