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MOSCOW, July 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Manager Gareth Southgate said England "left everything out there" after falling to an extra-time defeat by Croatia in the World Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

England were hoping to reach a first World Cup final since 1966, but let an early lead slip to lose 2-1.

"I think in the first half we were really good and maybe we could have got another goal," Southgate told ITV.

"I can't ask for more from the players. I think knockout football is about fine margins and when you have good spells against fine sides you need to take your chances.

"Tonight we weren't quite there but we will learn from that. We left everything out there."

Southgate said the players were deeply disappointed, but that the young team could achieve great things in the years to come, with the European Championship just two years away.

"It's impossible to say anything to make the players feel better at this moment in time," he said.

"We have to be proud of what we've achieved. I don't think anyone could have given any more.

"Players had run out of steam but that's partly their age – they're still physically maturing. Croatia have hardened warriors whose understanding of big matches at times came to the fore.

"The players have to go through big matches and experiences to become a team that can win. They have to use this experience for benefit and I know that what's happened over the last few weeks will make them a stronger team."

MOSCOW, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Gareth Southgate will never get over his own penalty miss 22 years ago but ensuring his young charges are not be daunted by history paid off when they finally laid England's World Cup shootout curse.

"It was a night when I just knew we were going to get over the line," the coach told reporters after England had to mentally recover from a 94th-minute equaliser by Colombia and coming from behind in the shootout before reaching the quarter-finals.

"We had the resilience and belief to get over the line," he said, praising the composure and discipline of his side in the face of rough treatment and a raucous Colombian crowd in Moscow.

In charge for two years of an England team that has left fans so disappointed for decades that few expected much of his young team in Russia, Southgate has resolved to shut out years of failure.

"We've talked to the players about them writing their own stories and tonight was the classic, they don't have to conform to what's gone," he said. "It was a special night.

"They've really bought in to everything we've tried to do."

Southgate has spoken in the past of how a shambolic set-up left him walking with inexperienced dread to take what would be the final penalty in a Euro 96 semi-final at Wembley against Germany -- which he patted into the goalkeeper's arms.

Determined to avoid such horrors, he and his staff have forced England's players to "practise and practise" the penalty routine.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had been thoroughly briefed on every Colombian penalty taker -- and remembered his lessons. And every England player knew the order they would shoot in.

Imparting belief is an inexact science, but Southgate made clear much lay in deep preparation and in dispelling ghosts.

"We had total belief in what we were doing right through to the end," he said.

Even when England lost the toss on which goal to use, he said he was able to joke about it.