Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Walker proud to have answered England doubters despite painful defeat

Walker proud to have answered England doubters despite painful defeat

England lost 2-1 to Croatia after the game went to extra time in Russian Federation, and the team will have to play Belgium in the third-place play off on Saturday.

The Three Lions were aiming to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 but suffered a 2-1 loss to Croatia, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the victor in extra-time. We beat the European champions, a really strong team, but it isn't about this one match.

"None of us knows if that's as good as it gets", he said, after England were beaten 2-1 by Croatia in extra-time on Wednesday.

"He was totally on board with us not playing him in the first game against Belgium". I think all of us deserve this.

Perisic provided a relentless threat to Gareth Southgate's team, with his powerful and purposeful runs down the left flank and at the heart of England's defence causing consistent problems throughout the latter stages of the match. I hope on Sunday we can celebrate together.

He said: "If we want to play for England we have to deal with expectation".

"It is a special feeling we feel towards Croatia, although I don't think other players from other nations have less feeling, it makes us something else when we put on that special shirt".

"We've had a lot of success at junior level, now with the seniors". But that's football. Maybe those things spurred us on but we were already sufficiently motivated to try to make the final and make our people happy. It could have been so much more for this side however as the World Cup victor, either France or Croatia, will bag $38m for their success, whilst the runner-up will scoop a handy $28m.

But despite his desire to begin work on the next tournament, Southgate conceded he may never recover from the nature of his team's exit from this World Cup. We want to be challenging for semi-finals and finals.

"We have to decide who can go again physically", said Southgate.

"Trippier is the obvious one because he's had to come off during the game and (Jordan) Henderson is also feeling his hamstring so we will just have to assess it".

"We want to finish the tournament well".

"We felt the best way to be successful in this tournament was to play that system".

Harry Kane looks set to claim the Golden Boot as the World Cup's leading scorer, but the Tottenham star rarely looked like adding to his six goals against Croatia.

It was with Al-Ain that he first appeared in a major global final, in the 2016 AFC Champions League, where they lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea.

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