Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Oh so near!- England misses out on World Cup Final

Published:Wednesday | July 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Fans react after England lose the semi-final match between Croatia and England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Hyde Park, London, yesterday.
An England soccer fan reacts after England lost the semifinal match between Croatia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup, in Hyde Park, London, yesterday


They sing of alcohol and agony, and of all those oh, so nears.

The anguished English now have another line to add to the lyrics of Three Lions: Football's not coming home.

There was no penalty heartache this time like in the semi-finals at the 1990 World Cup or the 1996 European Championship. But a 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time stopped England from reaching their first World Cup final since 1966.

"It hurts a lot," England striker Harry Kane said. "It's going to hurt for a while."

The fans sang of 30 years of hurt in 1996. Two years later, they refreshed it to 32. But the Lightning Seeds, an English musical act, stopped producing updates after that.

It's now 52 years and counting.

England came very close on Wednesday. For more than an hour, Gareth Southgate's young team led Croatia before the weary, ageing opposition sprung back to life at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Now on their way to St Petersburg for a third-place play-off against Belgium, there are just so many agonising misses to replay in their heads.

Kane. Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling. Chances to build on the lead secured by Kieran Trippier's free kick in the fifth minute.

While Trippier did bend it like Beckham for his goal, this generation of England players is far removed from the celebrity-obsessed David Beckham-era that straddled the millennium. They even managed to win a game on penalties, breaking the streak of five tournament shoot-out losses, in the round of 16.

"Wasn't to be this time," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter amid the latest Brexit turmoil within her government, "but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud."