Shearer: "The Third and Fourth Place Play-Off is utter stupidity"

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"Everybody has come. It's the best feeling in a long time".

On Wednesday night, it was totally different. Each of their three knockout matches have now gone to extra time, meaning they'll have played 90 more minutes than France going into Sunday's final. "I thought that might be the turning point for us".

"We were planning to leave, but now we have to stay until Monday", said Sinisa Pavlek, a Croatian living in Germany as he emerged from the stadium with a broad smile on his face. But it was England that looked exhausted as the game went on.

When you are a player, you can do something to influence what is going on and you don't feel that disgusting tension and those nerves that eat you up when you are sitting in the stands.

Fans go through the drama in The Village.

There's nothing like a hug to comfort you after your team loses a World Cup match.

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Their manager knew it would be hard to say much. But it is a massive difference to being a good understander of the game and being a good tactician.

The Village in Station Hill was packed full of optimistic fans as Gareth Southgate's men played their first semi-final since 1990 against Croatia. We are all gutted because this was a great opportunity for us.

There has been no crowd trouble involving our supporters, and I have seen no idiots in Moscow. "They let their hair down and I approved that because we have been in isolation for 50 days".

Prince William wrote from the Kensington Palace Twitter feed that he "couldn't be more proud" of the England players, adding: "You've had an incredible World Cup, made history and gave us fans something to believe in".

"This was our problem for 10 years, we had great individuals but no unity and that's why I had to build that unity of objective in the team".

We had all got excited and dreamt that it would be us facing France in Sunday's final - but why shouldn't we dream?

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If they had beaten Croatia, England would have reached only their second World Cup final.

That is exactly what has happened. In truth the reaction to England's semi-final loss has been notable for it's even-handedness, reflectiveness and dare we suggest it, even mild positivity, after what was in reality a campaign that largely exceeded expectations. "They should be more humble and respect their opponents more".

"I was lying in bed finding the strength to play and it was worth it".

There were question marks over Gareth Southgate too, when he was appointed as manager in 2016.

The Russia 2018 World Cup has produced a number of great stars and shown a glimpse of what's to come from future talents in the attractive game.

There is no need for change, no need for defeatist talk, no need to feel anything but pride in England's achievement and with it the hope on offer for the future.

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In-fact, 72% of England's goals have come from set-pieces.

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