Scenes of euphoria break out in Zagreb after Croatia beat England

Gareth Southgate England 2018 FIFA World Cup Croatia

The nation was gripped by World Cup fever from the start, and this was England's first semi-final since 1996. "It's just unbelievable to get back in the game in this way".

No penalty shootout was needed, though, as Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic struck a killer blow late in the game to break England's hearts.

The much younger, faster and less tired looking England side continued to cause Croatia problems going forward and also doubled their lead but a great Danijel Subasic save kept it at 1-0.

'It's coming home. Impossible, ' the youngster wrote.

After a goalless first 15 minutes of extra-time, and penalties looking like a big possibility, it was Croatia that ended England's dream of World Cup glory when Mario Mandzukic crept it at the far post to fire home what would ultimately be the victor.

Croatia have gone to extra-time in all of their knockout games and will face a France team far fresher in Moscow.

After a nervous opening quarter from Croatia, their first serious attempt on goal came in the 18th minute when Ivan Perisic cut inside from the left and fired from outside the box only for it to go just wide.

Mandzukic alertly reacted to the unexpected ball in the penalty area, splitting defenders John Stones and Harry Maguire, who had taken four short steps up.

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For England , the end still felt premature. "I reckon there's a lot we could've done better". You couldn't ask for anything more from the group of players.

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In Zagreb, the capital, more than 10,000 people gathered in the central square to watch the match despite rainy weather.

England arrived at this World Cup with the least experienced squad in terms of caps, but Southgate said the agony of losing was just as strong despite surpassing limited expectations.

Trippier struck the ball with his right foot and it rose above leaping Dejan Lovren and Mandzukic to the left of the desperate dive of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who turned his head and watched the ball land in the upper corner.

England, playing with zip and objective, looked sharp going forward as a rattled Croatia side tried to regroup, with Raheem Sterling proving a real handful but the score remained 1-0 at the break.

After patient passing build-up play in the 108th minute, Mandžukić popped up on the six-yard line to dim England's dreams.

England had its moments to come back but could not finish its chances.

At the other end, Perisic had a shot on target blocked by Kyle Walker but it two minutes later there was no stopping Perisic as he volleyed volleyd home a cross from Vrsaljko on the right.

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