England boss Gareth Southgate: Croatia loss will live with me forever
England manager Gareth Southgate says the Three Lions' 2-1 World Cup semifinal loss to Croatia will stay with him forever, but his side are determined to earn a medal in Russia as consolation.
After taking an early lead, a valiant England were ultimately beaten by a Mario Mandzukic winner in extra time, putting an end to their first trip to the last four since 1990.
"In terms of mentality, it's obviously been a really difficult couple of days," Southgate told reporters on Friday. "I was watching the game at four o'clock this morning. That is going to live with me forever.
"We were 20 minutes from a World Cup final and then, in extra time, 10 minutes from a shootout to get to a World Cup final. That is going to live with me forever, there is no doubt about that. The reason for us being here was to achieve that big goal.
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"We got back to St Petersburg at 6.30 a.m. the day after the game, so it has been an emotion-fuelled few days."
England must quickly pick up the pieces ahead of a tricky third-place match against Belgium, who ran through favourites Brazil in the quarterfinals before being stopped in their tracks by France in the semis.
Southgate said: "We have high motivation to perform and finish with a medal at a World Cup, which only one England team have done.
"The players are incredible. Their energy and desire to finish the tournament well, we owe it as much to ourselves as to our nation to finish well. We've set the standard of how we work, the standard of how we play, and we want to maintain those standards right to the end."
Southgate was still a player the last time England reached a semifinal in a major tournament -- the 1996 Euro on home soil -- and believes the 2018 edition is different than that team.
"Contextually, this is different in that I feel that team [in 1996] with all its experience, playing at home, were closer to the finished article and knew a lot were not going to have the chance again," Southgate said.
"Now my care is for everybody else and picking them up first and foremost, energising them for this game.
"Your responsibilities lay elsewhere as a manager.
"It's different but no less painful, for sure, but I've also got to get everyone else through the next three days."