World Cup Recap: Semi-final 2

Croatia outmuscles England to reach their first World Cup Final

Mario Mandzukic of Croatia celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with Ivan Perisic during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup concluded on Wednesday with the second spot to be decided between the winner of Croatian and England. A battle between two of the surprise teams of the tournament would decide who would face France for the richest prize in international football.

Croatia 2-1 England (after extra time)

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Attendance: 78,011

England could not have hoped for a better start. After five minutes, the Three Lions had the lead thanks to a curling free kick from Kieran Trippier. Trippier almost helped England extend the lead by connecting with Harry Maguire on a corner that just went wide. Harry Kane also had a good chance in the 30th minute where he may have taken an extra touch too long and had the rebound get denied by the post. Croatia also had an opportunity late in the first half but, for the most part, England was the winner of the half.

After playing two-straight matches of 120 minutes plus penalties, it looked as though England would manage out the lead but Croatia flipped the switch and hit another gear. It all culminated with Ivan Perisic’s tying goal in the 68th minute, and the Inter Milan almost had the winning goal when he was denied by the post just five minutes after. England were able to fight off the Vatreni and the match ended 1-1 in regulation.

Both teams had good chances in the first period of extra time but the decider would be scored in the second extra time period. It was the experienced Mario Mandzukic that found space inside the box to notch home the winning goal in the 109th minute. England were down to ten men as well as Trippier could not continue due to injury and the manager had used all his substitutions. Croatia would see out the 2-1 to advance to their first World Cup final.

Croatia advances to their first final ever

Croatia have shocked everyone, going the distance in three consecutive matches to secure their best finish at the FIFA World Cup. Led by some of the World’s most talented midfielders in Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Croatia are now one win away from glory. Modric, individually, is on one of the most impressive year’s by a player after already having won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid just before Russia 2018. Should Croatia win, he’ll be the odd-on-favorite to be named the FIFA Player of the Year. Despite France being the favorite on Sunday, no one can dare count out Croatia after the way they have arrived at the final.

England’s Cinderella run takes a detour to the third place match

There was little expectations for this England team heading into the tournament so no one can consider them a failure. For the English, however, the loss will hurt because you never know when you’ll get this close to the final again. This young England team certainly be looked at to have a good chance to do that at the next World Cup. They’ll also carry higher expectations at the Euro 2020 because of what they have done in this tournament. The challenge now will be to not meddle in the work of the Manager, Gareth Southgate, and allow him to do things his way as he works with this England squad.

Notable stat: Croatia is the first team to avoid defeat after three straight extra time matches at the World Cup.

Programming notes:

Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis will be broadcasting from The Gorgeous Gael (5555 Morningside Dr. Houston, TX 77005) with a two-hour LIVE show, airing on ESPN 97.5 FM, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Blitz will be broadcasting from the Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria (2626 Sage Rd, Houston, Texas 77056) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Former Houston Dynamo forward and a member of the U.S. national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Brian Ching, will be a guest on the show.

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This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

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