England’s historic World Cup run came to an end at the semi-final stage as Croatia came from behind to defeat the Three Lions 2-1 in extra time.
Goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic after a magnificent early free kick from Kieran Trippier condemned Gareth Southgate’s young Lions to a devastating defeat.
It had been the first time since Italia ’90 that England had reached the last four of a World Cup, and there was strong feeling across the nation that football would finally come home, but it was not to be as the youngest squad in the tournament ran out of ideas, energy and time.
England can take a lot of heart from Russia. The Three Lions have united a nation that had been disillusioned with the national team after humiliating exits from the World Cup in 2014 and the Euros two years later.
There is a strong belief that this is not the end, but just the beginning of a new chapter in England’s history.
We know there is still a third-placed play-off game to play but in truth, that seems like an irrelevant fixture and as such, we’ve decided the time is right to take a look at how the players rated during England’s historic campaign:
Jordan Pickford - 8
Everton’s no.1 was outstanding in the knockout stages, making several wonder-saves to keep England in the tournament. He was the hero of the penalty shootout against Colombia with a fantastic save to deny Carlos Bacca’s spot kick.
Kieran Trippier - 8
Kieran Trippier was one of the stars of the tournament. His delivery was wonderful and his work up and down England’s right side was a huge factor in their success. His first England goal, the free-kick in the semi-final, wasn’t too bad either!
Kyle Walker - 6
Centre-back was not Kyle Walker’s natural position and his casual nature and tendency to fall asleep on the ball almost cost England at times. He shouldn’t play centre back.
John Stones - 7
Was comfortable in a back three and was a threat from set pieces, as shown when he scored a brace against Panama in the 6-1 rout.
Harry Maguire - 8
The Leicester City centre-back is certain to be in the England starting XI in the near future. Maguire had an excellent tournament, whether it be from attacking and defending corners or bringing the ball out from the back.
Ashley Young -5
England’s worst performer of the tournament, Young’s set pieces were a let down at times and being a right footed left wing-back did little to help England’s cause.
Jordan Henderson - 7
Henderson was the engine in the heart of England’s play, helped maintain possession well but, at times, he lacked the ability to play a killer pass.
Dele Alli - 6
Injury hampered his tournament but he still scored against Sweden and wasn’t afraid to be physical in midfield.
Jesse Lingard - 7
Lingard was dynamic and linked the attack and midfield well, scored a stunner against Panama too.
Raheem Sterling - 6
Sterling’s tournament has been subject to criticism from all quarters. His pace was a threat to defences all tournament but his end product was severely lacking.
Harry Kane - 7
This is a strange rating considering Kane is on the verge of a World Cup golden boot, but he was a passenger for a large majority of games in the knockout stages. Maybe a bit harsh but more was expected from the captain.
Trent Alexander-Arnold - 6
Played well against Belgium but was never going to feature over Trippier, one for the future.
Gary Cahill - 5
Cahill’s mix up with Pickford almost resulted in a Belgium goal. At 32, almost certainly his last major tournament.
Phil Jones - 5
Jones played his part against Belgium but didn’t do enough to force his way into the back three.
Danny Rose - 6
Should have started the tournament over Young, didn’t play enough minutes to impress.
Eric Dier - 5
Dier’s cameos did nothing to help England, his appearance against Croatia did nothing to help the Three Lions wrestle control of the tie.
Fabian Delph -6
His tournament disrupted by the birth of his child, but he looked pretty good when called upon.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek - 7
Loftus-Cheek saw out the game very well against Tunisia and put in another bullying performance against Panama. His tournament fizzled out after that when Alli returned.
Marcus Rashford - 6
Rashford was reduced to mainly cameos and that didn’t help the Man Utd youngster find any rhythm, his time will come.
Jamie Vardy - 5
Hampered by injury throughout, he tried to make an impact but England simply didn’t play to his strengths.
Gareth Southgate - 8
Southgate had his young squad playing a controlled, attractive brand of football that is sustainable for the future. His substitutions and lack of ability to change a game are topics to be addressed later.