Dele and England's dream ends with Croatia defeat

Dele Alli
Dele Alli

There may not have been Gazza-style tears of Italia 90 or the 'not in our back yard' sense of disappointment in Euro 96, but the sting of disappointment after England's 2-1 defeat to Croatia is being felt all over the country.

Mario Mandzukic struck in extra time to end England's hopes of making only their second World Cup final, but for Milton Keynes, all eyes were on Dele Alli, a 20-year-old from town.

After scoring against Sweden in the quarter finals on Saturday, Alli watched Tottenham team-mate Kieran Tripper net a stunning free kick after just five minutes to put Gareht Southgate's side into the lead.

But a second half header from Ivan Perisic sent the tie to extra time - just as England's previous World Cup semi-final appearance did in 1990 - only for Mandzukic to strike in the first half to end England's dreams of a final appearance.

For Alli, from MK Dons ball-boy to England hero is a fairy tale without the same ending. Hundreds of desperate England fans fell silent around Willen lake after Juventus striker Mandkuic found the net after 110 minutes of play, watching on the big screen in anticipation of hope and expectation becoming a reality.

Alli and his England team-mates will not come home yet, with the insignificant matter of the third place play-off still at hand on Saturday.