England's Kieran Trippier celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the semifinal match between Croatia and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
But there were stunned reactions as Croatia scored the equaliser through Ivan Perisic.
With time running out and pressure mounting, England charged forward and their all-time top World Cup scorer Gary Lineker snatched an 80th minute equalizer to send the game into extra time.
The captain was the man of the match again in the penalty shootout win over Russian Federation in Sochi at the weekend.
Trippier scores his first free kick goal of the tournament to give the Three Lions a dream start in the semifinal.
Croatia heads into this game on the back of penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russian Federation in the last-16 and quarter-final stages.
"Until they scored [the equaliser] we were always under cosh", Kane said.
Southgate's only response was to take off Sterling for Marcus Rashford, keeping the same formation and failing to tackle the areas in which Croatia were dominating. "God willing, we will be world champions".
In front of more than 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Bobby Charlton put them ahead with a rebound shot from a clearance in the first half and added another after the break to go 2-0 up against Portugal, led by 1965 Ballon d'Or victor Eusebio.
Croatia did their confidence little good in the 22nd minute when Danijel Subasic's poor kick went straight to Raheem Sterling, who found Harry Kane, but he ultimately shot wide after straying offside.
The extra-time defeat will hurt for a long time, England striker Harry Kane said.
England paid the price for those early misses when Perisic showed great determination to get in front of Kyle Walker to meet a curling Sime Vrsaljko cross and though his boot was arguably high, Walker was stooping and there were few complaints. Perisic was mightily unlucky not to add to his tally when his angled shot beat Pickford but cannoned off the post.
England have been knocked out of the World Cup after Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandžukić's goals denied the opener from Kerian Trippier.
Stones for England came close in the first period when his header from a corner was headed off the line from Vrsaljko but Mandzukic would have the chance of the first period but Pickford brilliantly saved from close-range after the Juventus striker met Perisic's cross.
"This is a miracle".
Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, England are the third youngest team in the tournament and head coach Gareth Southgate has done his utmost to lower the expectations.
"We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final".
"We experienced the extra time and penalties (against Colombia) and we know the physical and emotional outcome of that", he said.
"For us as a team, yes, it's another chance to create a small piece of history".
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