Croatia’s attacking riches meant the Three Lions always needed to score twice in their World Cup semi-final clash, according to the goalkeeper.
Jordan Pickford rued an inability to turn first-half supremacy into a bigger lead as the turning point in England’s semi-final loss to Croatia at the World Cup.
Kieran Trippier gave Gareth Southgate’s men an ideal start to the nation’s first semi-final appearance in 28 years when he curled in a sublime free-kick in the fifth minute.
But a failure to build on the lead despite looking dangerous left the door open to a second-half rally from Croatia, who equalised through Ivan Perisic in the 68th minute and secured a place in the final courtesy of Mario Mandzukic’s strike 19 minutes into extra time.
Pickford, one of England’s standout performers in Russia, felt victory was well within reach.
“We needed that next goal to kill off the tie,” he told ITV.
“We had some good chances, never put them away, and I feel like if we got that goal before half-time or in the first 15 of the second half we might have had that opportunity to win the game.
“A team like Croatia, we know their threats going forward. They’ve got some top quality players and they showed a bit in the second half.”
Pickford also raised the question of whether Perisic should have been called for a high foot in netting the equaliser.
The winger, who later assisted Mandzukic’s decisive goal, met Sime Vrsaljko’s cross with a flying left-footed finish that almost caught Kyle Walker as the defender stooped to head clear.
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“I’m always trying to help the team and unfortunately it was a one-on-one [for the winner] and maybe a high foot against [Walker],” the Everton gloveman said.
“But you never know. You can’t look at it like that. You’ve just got to look forward now and show pride and show passion, which we have.”
England face off against Belgium in Saturday’s third-place game, in a rematch of the group stage finale.