Jesse Lingard shines once again despite painful World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia

by Leo Nieboer

Jesse Lingard can leave the World Cup with his head held high following another dedicated, tenacious display as England lost 2-1 to Croatia.

The 25-year-old started the game superbly, picking up the ball in promising areas and driving England forward in an opening 45 minutes they dominated.

He supplied Harry Kane with a clever ball through the channel to put him through on goal and give the captain a chance to double England’s lead, only for the Tottenham Hotspur forward to fluff his lines.

His influence faded in the second half as England, unable to cope with being less than 45 minutes away from a World Cup final, lost their rhythm and eventually their heads when Ivan Perisic levelled after 69 minutes.

Lingard ended the game in a heap on the floor, tears streaming down his face, the dejection and misery and sheer exhaustion consuming him slowly as it dawned on him just how close he and his teammates came. Marcus Rashford, who came on for extra time, was in a similar state.

But the Englishman returns to Manchester United with his stock at an all time high. Even with Croatia 2-1 up and Gareth Southgate’s side mentally and physically shot after nearly two hours of battle, Lingard continued to run, to find energy from somewhere. He was essentially running on fumes.

And that, more than anything, sums up Lingard’s World Cup: a beacon of vibrancy and sheer determination, driving his team forward right up until the last.

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