Croatia will face France in their first World Cup final after coming from behind to dash England’s dreams with a 2-1 extra-time victory at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that broke English hearts on 109 minutes as Croatia emulated their heroes of 1998 by securing their place in football’s greatest game for the very first time.
It all started so promisingly or England who took the lead through Kieran Trippier’s wonderful fifth-minute free-kick but Ivan Perisic forced extra-time with Croatia’s equaliser on 68 minutes.
Juventus striker Mandzukic then capitalised on a brief lapse in the English defence to put Croatia ahead for the first time, and there was no way back for Gareth Southgate’s tiring side.
The defeat ends England’s hopes of a first world title since 1966, but they have the chance to salvage bronze in Saturday’s third-place play-off against Belgium.
Croatia: Subasic (7), Vrsaljko (6), Strinic (6), Lovren (7), Vida (6), Rakitic (5), Modric (7), Brozovic (6), Perisic (8), Rebic (6), Mandzukic (7).
Subs: Kramaric (5), Pivaric (5), Corluka (NA), Badelj (NA).
England: Pickford (7), Walker (8), Stones (6), Maguire (7), Trippier (8), Henderson (7), Lingard (6), Alli (6), Young (6), Sterling (7), Kane (6).
Subs: Rashford (6), Rose (5), Dier (5), Vardy (NA).
Man of the Match: Kieran Trippier.