SportsPulse: Fox Sports’ Kelly Smith dissects how France has built a special team that has every piece in place to become World Cup champions.
USA TODAY Sports, USA TODAY
MOSCOW — England made a blistering start to its World Cup semifinal against Croatia on Wednesday night, surging into an early lead thanks to a stunning free-kick from Kieran Trippier.
Trippier struck a sweet free-kick over the Croatia wall in the fifth minute, guiding it perfectly past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and into the top right scorer.
Dele Alli had won the free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, when his powerful forward run was abruptly stopped by a Luka Modric foul.
It was Trippier’s first goal of the tournament, though he had previously impressed with his performances and converted a crucial penalty in the round of 16 shootout against Colombia.
England was bidding for a place in the World Cup final for the first time since 1966, when it won the tournament on home soil for the only time in its history.
Croatia, having survived shootouts in both of its prior matches, was looking to improve upon its best finish, a semifinal spot in 1998.