Moscow, July 12: Although England lost the semi-final to Croatia in the FIFA World Cup, “the whole thing is beyond where we thought we might go”, coach Gareth Southgate has said.
A superb Kieran Trippier free kick gave England an early lead in their semifinal against Croatia on Wednesday before Ivan Perisic equalised with a 68th minute volley.
Mario Mandzukic then secured his team a place in Sunday’s final against France by netting in the 19th minute of extra time.
“We’ve come an incredibly long way in a short space of time,” Southgate said after the match.
“The whole thing is beyond where we thought we might go. Tonight we weren’t quite there. But the team will be stronger for it.
“We want to be a team who are hitting quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. That’s what we aimed to do in the long-term. We’ve proved to ourselves and our country that is possible.
“Now we have a new benchmark, a new level of expectation, a new scenario. But many of these players have come of age on an international stage. I couldn’t be prouder with what they’ve done. For everybody in our party, I wanted them to create memories that are with them forever, for them and for others. If we’ve brought joy back home, which I know we have, then that’s been worthwhile. We should be proud of that.” IANS