Trailing 1-0 at halftime of its semifinal match against England, Croatia looked like it was more likely to concede a second goal than find an equalizer. Then the Ivan Perisic World Cup highlight show got underway.
Perisic was a menace in winning back possession for Croatia. Playing on the left side, he was routinely found on the right disrupting England's attempts to get the ball under control.
But it wasn't just his work rate that stood out. Perisic was dangerous cutting inside from the left wing throughout the second half. He fired off a warning shot in the 65th minute that weakened Kyle Walker.
We'll spare you the video, but there's no question Walker had a tough time shaking that one off. And Perisic took advantage. In the 68th minute Sime Vrsaljko sent in a dangerous cross, and Perisic whipped his left leg over Walker for an acrobatic finish.
The game opened up, and Perisic was all over the place. After Ante Rebic forced John Stones into a poor clearance, Perisic pounced. His left-footed shot beat Jordan Pickford but hit the woodwork.
That's back-to-back games Perisic has hit the post. But unlike the quarterfinal against Russia, Zlatko Dalic elected to keep Perisic in for extra time. That proved to be a great decision.
Perisic again provided the creative spark Croatia needed out wide. During the first extra time period, Perisic delivered a perfect cross to Mario Mandzukic. Jordan Pickford came up with a big stop.
Perisic wouldn't be denied. In the 109th minute he won a header over Kieran Trippier, and Mandzukic alertly beat John Stones to the ball before slipping a shot past Pickford.
Croatia's center midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have received a lot of praise, and rightfully so. The duo was again instrumental in helping Croatia win the possession battle and launching attacks forward. But Perisic provided the energy and attacking flare that Croatia needed to complement its strong midfield.
This was easily the best Perisic World Cup match this tournament. If he can build off of his performance against England, then Croatia might just be able to take down France and win a title few saw coming.