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Croatia stun England in extra time to book first-ever final berth

12 July 2018

He said: 'I know how disappointed England must feel right now but I couldn't be more proud of this team and you should hold your heads high.

When heartbroken English fans wake up Thursday morning after a long night of crying into their pints, the most hard part of their grief to digest following the Three Lions' 2-1 extra-time loss to Croatia in the World Cup semifinals Wednesday in Moscow will be the unshakable feeling that England had this one in the bag. Croatia last made its way to the semi-finals in 1998, where it was beaten by the host-country France.

"We haven't really got the players now, but we've got the team", he said.

Not after they conquered their shootout demons against Colombia in the Round of 16, and not after Southgate and his staff went to great lengths to ensure his players would embrace the tiebreaker if England got the opportunity to change its luck.

It postponed a planned event at the park site to allow fans to watch the game on several giant 94-metre by 11-metre screens.

Despite taking the lead early in the first half on Wednesday, England suffered the familiar story of World Cup heartbreak as Croatia equalised in the second half and then claimed the victor in the second period of extra time. In the semi-final, with the help of some timely rain, he came from two sets to one down to beat Briton Tim Henman. The audience at the match between England and Croatia totaled 78,011 spectators.

England may have crashed out of the 2018 World Cup, but there are signs the team could go one or two steps further for the follow-up in 2022.

"It's very much a national game".

"The atmosphere's been absolutely electric", said Michael Grant, 36, a London property developer.

The years of hurt will go on - and for all the optimism raised by England's deeds in Russian Federation over the last month, there will be a burning sense of missed opportunity that will take a long time to erase.

Win or lose, the event brought people together.

The team's unexpected advance through the competition has coincided with weeks of uninterrupted sunshine across the country - equally rare in rain-sodden England.

It had left some wondering if this is the new normal. "He is playing the best football of his life". "France are a young team, Brazil are young", he said.

Faced with another 30 minutes of battle Southgate addressed his players once more, going first to John Stones and then to Ashley Young, Kane, Kyle Walker and Jordan Henderson.

Croatia stun England in extra time to book first-ever final berth