England aim to join France in World Cup final

Moscow: England will attempt to reach the World Cup final for the first time since 1966 on Wednesday when they face a talented Croatia team for the right to play France for football’s biggest prize.
Gareth Southgate’s England side are hoping their young legs can carry them past a Croatia team who have endured two penalty shootouts in a row.
England will grind to a halt for the 1800 GMT kickoff at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, with an estimated 30 million people across Britain expected to watch on TV and hundreds of thousands more cramming into pubs and public viewing areas to follow the game.
Despite a summer heatwave in England, fans have been urged to wear waistcoats in tribute to those sported by Southgate since the tournament began.
“We can feel the energy and the support from home and it’s a very special feeling and a privilege for us,” Southgate said on Tuesday.
England are in the last four of the World Cup for the first time since losing to Germany on penalties in 1990.
Southgate said he was convinced that win or lose on Wednesday, his team have a bright future after decades of English under-achievement on the international stage.
“We’re going into a semi-final but it just seems like it’s the next step on the journey,” Southgate said.
Croatia are wary of the threat posed by England captain Harry Kane, the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals so far, while England will have to close down arguably the best player of this World Cup, Luka Modric.
Six charter flights with more than 1,000 people on board left Croatia — a country of just four million people — to swell the team’s support in the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium.
It is the first time since 1998 that Croatia have reached this stage.
“This is a really big day for Croatian sport and football,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said before leaving for Russia.
“It is a success that we will remember for generations. We hope for a victory.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she had exchanged football shirts with Plenkovic when they met on Tuesday.
“Gareth Southgate and the boys have done a fantastic job and I’m sure they are going to go on to do well and I wish them all the best of luck tonight,” May said.
May will not attend the match because Britain has imposed a diplomatic boycott on Russia after blaming Moscow for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy in England.