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Kane says England defeat will hurt for a long time

12 July 2018

The World Cup in Russian Federation has thrown up some stunning twists, turns and shocks, so it's perhaps fitting that its final game will feature the smallest nation to appear in the last stage of the tournament since 1950.

The French national football team defeated Belgium 1-0 in the semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, played on Tuesday night in Russia's Saint Petersburg, to become the first team to vie for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.

But defeat still stings for Gareth Southgate and his overachieving players. "Realistically, I don't think any of us did".

You couldn't ask for anything more from the group of players.

England's players responded to a standing ovation from those supporters but there was no disguising the pain - or Southgate's determination to remind them of what they have achieved at this World Cup in Russian Federation. They have personality as players and as a team.

That's proved to be the case, although they have relied on large part on grit and determination to see them through the knockout stages, beating Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties before seeing off England in extra time.

England don't have a Modric - few teams do - but they have to learn how to control games better against top-class teams.

England can take much from these momentous last few weeks in Russian Federation, where bonds have been forged behind the gates of their base in Repino, and Southgate's squad have won many admirers with their modest and down-to-earth approach.

Croatia, meanwhile, has played an extra game given the three 30-minute extra times they've participated in.

"Want to know how insane we are?" said Fran Colak, a Croatian Saultite who had come down to the gathering to watch the semi-final game. We're taking it step by step.

"We created some good chances when we were 1-0 up, maybe we dropped a little too deep but we didn't get enough pressure on the ball".

"I'd be amazed if he doesn't come out in the next few days or week and something emerges about his fitness".

Southgate has rebuilt the England team since their abject failure at Euro 2016, when Roy Hodgson's side were humiliated by Iceland in the round of 16.

When the inevitable pain subsides, and the belief that England blew their chance is placed in context, there is so much that can be taken from Russian Federation. "Another one picked up my lens and another player [Domagoj Vida] gave me a kiss".

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"We have to play as if this were the first game in this tournament".

The building blocks are certainly in place, however, and that is not something that England have been able to say for many years.

"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.

They will, however, have to reflect on a glorious opportunity to reach a World Cup final that has been wasted. Many of these players have come of age on an worldwide stage.

Kane says England defeat will hurt for a long time