England made a bright start to the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, opening their campaign with a 2-1 win over Tunisia, followed by a freewheeling 6-1 win over World Cup newcomers Panama, in which Harry Kane scored a hat-trick. However, for their final group game, against Belgium, manager Gareth Southgate fielded a weakened side and England suffered their first defeat, losing 1-0 after a spectacular, curling strike from former Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj. Consequently, England faced Colombia, rather than Japan, in the last sixteen but, after a 1-1 draw, won a penalty shootout 4-3 to record their first knockout victory in a World Cup since 2006.
A 2-0 win over Sweden, courtesy of goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli either side of half-time, saw England reach their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, in which they faced Croatia. England made a near-perfect start, with right-back Kieran Tripper opening the scoring with a 20-yard free kick after just five minutes, but a second-half equaliser from Croatian forward Ivan Perisic sent the match into extra time. Deep into the additional period, Perisic was also involved again, flicking the ball on for Mario Mandzukic to score the winning goal. In the effectively meaningless third-place playoff, England again lost to Belgium, 2-0, to finish a creditable fourth in the tournament.