Moscow :Some England soccer fans sobbed while others looked to the future with confidence after their once improbable dreams of a first World Cup final in more than 50 years were dashed by Croatia .
“We blew our chances,” 17-year-old Josh Ogunde said after watching the 2-1 semi-final defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.
“I just believe we can come back another time, and I hope before I die I see England win the World Cup,” Ogunde said.
Matt Reece, 25, who works in marketing, said England had far outperformed the low expectations of them when the tournament began.
But he lamented England’s failure to take full advantage of what appeared an unusually easy route to the final, avoiding most of the heavyweight teams in Russia.
“They’ve been unbelievable the whole tournament but at the end of the day, it was our best chance ever and we haven’t taken it,” Reece said.
After watching their team stumble at major tournaments for decades, often falling to much smaller nations, England supporters had begun to think that 2018 might be a different story.
If they had beaten Croatia, England would have reached only their second World Cup final. In their other appearance, in 1966, in London, they entered popular folklore by beating West Germany, an achievement that many fans have long thought they would never see again.
Despite taking the lead early in the first half on Wednesday, England suffered the familiar story of World Cup heartbreak as Croatia equalised in the second half and then claimed the winner in the second period of extra time.
In Moscow, some England fans emerged from the Luzhniki Stadium in tears and being hugged by others while jubilant Croatian supporters celebrated around them.
“It was a good game. Croatia deserved to win,” Mark Burcher, 50, said. Asked how far he thought the still young England team could progress in the next World Cup, he said: “This far, if not the final.”
“A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result,” said one man in a red England shirt who declined to give his name. “It’s something to have got this far.”
But Raj Singh, a Canadian who supports England because he has relatives in Britain, said the team may have passed up their best opportunity in a lifetime to reach a World Cup final.
“No way will they have such an easy route next time. Look at the other teams they’ll be up against. France are a young team, Brazil are young,” he said.
Punjab fall short again
Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.
Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.
On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.
Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.
However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.
After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.
Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.
Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.
Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC
Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.
The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.
The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.
“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.
“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.
Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.
“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.
“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.
MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton
London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.
Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.
Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.
Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.
Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.
United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.
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