Croatia star Sime Vrsaljko mocked England for reverting to ‘punting long balls upfield’ as Gareth Southgate’s men saw their World Cup dream die.
The Three Lions took an early lead in their semi-final clash when Kieran Trippier scored an exquisite free-kick but Ivan Perisic and then Mario Mandzukic scored to set-up a France vs Croatia final.
Southgate has brought fresh ideas and renewed energy to the England set-up since taking over less than two years ago and the Three Lions played with an unfamiliar 3-5-2 system throughout the tournament.
Much had been made about the manner in which England saw off the likes of Colombia and Sweden in previous rounds but Vrsaljko believes Croatia brought out the old England when they put pressure on them.
‘The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long balls upfield but when we pressed them it turned out that they haven’t,’ said Vrsaljko.
England’s defeat doesn’t mean the end of their tournament as Southgate’s side will now take on Belgium in a third-place play-off on Saturday in St Petersburg.
Southgate is expected to make a number of changes in order to give those who haven’t played much a start in the tournament.
England last played a third place play-off in 1990 and were beaten by hosts Italy.