Striker Mario Mandzukic scored 19 minutes into extra-time to complete the Croatian comeback and end England’s dream tournament run.
England got off to a perfect start, taking the lead only five minutes into the match thanks to a spectacular free-kick from wing-back Kieran Trippier.
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But despite dominating much of the first half, England were unable to extend to lead, with Jesse Lingard missing a great chance to make it 2-0 after shooting wide.
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Croatia, competing in their first semifinal since the 1998 World Cup, got their equalizer in the 68th minute, with winger Ivan Perisic lunging ahead of defender Kyle Walker to poke the ball into the net.
Perisic nearly scored a second goal just minutes later, as he latched onto the ball following a defensive lapse before striking the post with his shot.
The match then went to extra-time, and Mandzukic gave his team the lead 19 minutes in, running onto a headed pass from earlier goalscorer Perisic and smashing a low drive past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
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England had 11 minutes to try and equalize to force a penalty shootout, but they were unable to find a way past the Croatian defence.
After the match, England captain Harry Kane said the defeat would “hurt for a long time,” although he reiterated that England had exceeded expectations by making it to the semi-final.
“It’s tough, we’re gutted,” he said. “We worked so hard, the fans were amazing, it was a tough game, a 50-50 game, when we look back we will think there’s stuff we could have done better.
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“We worked as hard as we could… it hurts, it hurts a lot and it will hurt for a long time. We have had a fantastic journey, further than we thought,” he added.
Croatia’s victory will see them play France in the World Cup final at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday.
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England will play Belgium in the third-place play-off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.
— With a file from Reuters
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