First published by soccernews.com

As seismic sporting shocks go, Wednesday saw one of the biggest in years. 

Roger Federer, tennis’ 20-time major-winning great, squandered a two-set lead and a match point to lose to Kevin Anderson in his Wimbledon quarter-final.

Federer’s upset was a preview to the main event, it turned out. At Luzhniki Stadium, Croatia looked finished, a spent force, heading forlornly for the weird, sullen occasion that is the World Cup’s third-place play-off. And although they were hardly playing tournament favourites in England, their fightback was worthy of sharing a day with Anderson’s extraordinary tale.

This was a first semi-final at any event for England since 1996; for Croatia, it was their first foray into the last four since the fabled team of World Cup 1998. They have never been to a final at all. History was always going to be made in Moscow, which is just the way a game of this magnitude should be.

This was Croatia’s best side since that Davor Suker vintage, a second ‘golden generation’ who humbled Argentina in the group stage, who battled from a goal down to see off Denmark and hosts Russia in the knockouts to reach this point. They have survived turmoil surrounding their Football Association, mounting expectations and two penalty shoot-outs. Theirs is an uncommon, unbreakable spirit.

9 – England have scored nine goals from set pieces at the 2018 World Cup – the most by any team in a single World Cup tournament since 1966. Whip. #ENGCRO #ENG #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/YmiTkmROuC

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