They're going home. After a heroic effort during 120 minutes of football, Gareth Southgate's England finally succumbed to Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday night.
A momentary lapse in concentration from John Stones, gifted Mario Mandzukic his second - and most important - goal of the tournament to fire Croatia into their first ever FIFA World Cup final.
And it all started so well for the Three Lions, as Kieran Trippier - arguably England's star of the tournament so far - channeled his inner David Beckham to curl the ball over the Croatian wall and into the back of the net in the fourth minute:
KEIRAN BLOODY TRIPPIER!!!!! GET IN!!!!— Khaled Abdallah (@khaled74) July 11, 2018
OMGAJAKAVAHAKAJAJSVANTMFKFN!!— Toby Cudworth (@themasterplan87) July 11, 2018
WHAT A FREE KICK!! #90minlive
No team since 1966 has scored more World Cup goals from set-pieces (9) in a single tournament than England.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 11, 2018
Bury Becks strikes. pic.twitter.com/jNLVM7Edpo
Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker. KIERAN TRIPPIER.— James Mariner (@MarinerIndy) July 11, 2018
England continued pile on the offensive pressure after taking the early lead, looking to capitalise upon Dejan Lovren's ineptitude, and apparent ability to channel his inner Jean Alain Boumsong at will:
It's mind boggling how bad Lovren is. He's horrific.— Jack Gallagher (@calciolovesjack) July 11, 2018
Nice to see that the real Dejan Lovren has turned up tonight — Callum Glendinning (@glenny1711) July 11, 2018
At the end of the first half, Croatia finally started to find their way back into the game, controlling possession and finding their way into the offensive third with increasing frequency. However, Croatia's best efforts to grab an equaliser were seemingly all quelled by Harry Maguire, who channeled his inner...monster truck (?)...Marco Materazzi (?)...God(?)...to keep Zlatko Dalic's men at bay:
HARRY MAGUIRE IS A MONSTER TRUCK THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) July 11, 2018
Harry maguire is god— Ryan Nicholls (@_RyanNicholls) July 11, 2018
Croatia began the second half in the ascendancy, but largely failed to create anything substantial in the final third.
Mario Mandzukic was forced to feed off scraps inside the penalty area as Ivan Strinic, Sime Vrsaljko, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic channeled their inner Aidan McGeady's, somehow managing to fail to clear the first man with 3,000 consecutive crosses:
Croatia keeps crossing against a back line which consists of players having to defend against Stoke, Southampton, Crystal Palace and the likes every week. It's not going to work. Just stop.— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) July 11, 2018
Croatia putting on a display of the worst crossing I've ever seen— . (@CFCruairi) July 11, 2018
Finally however, after 3,000 crosses, Croatia finally - FINALLY - curled a brilliant ball into the box...and it proved to be England's undoing.
A wonderful whipped ball from the right flank from
Christ what a finish!— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) July 11, 2018
WHAT A COTTDAMN FINISH THAT WAS— A West (@ayyy_west) July 11, 2018
After drawing level, Croatia bombarded the England backline who, miraculously survived the onslaught. Channeling their inner Fortuna, England rode their luck throughout the remainder of the second half:
Squeaky bum time for England. Need to regain their composure.— davekennedy (@davekennedy6) July 11, 2018
Croatia are playing with renewed life. Perisic is in another gear.— Nathan Quao (@nathan_quao) July 11, 2018
Looks like England is fielding a different team in this second half. The substitution Southgate should make is take Young off.— Bryan Barcelona (@barcelonabryan) July 11, 2018
England need some luck now & get a goal against the run of play. If we go through tonight it will be absolute luck. They luck a better side than us right now. Let’s hope we get that luck #ThreeLions— Chris Slater ⚽️LFC (@ChrisSlater_LFC) July 11, 2018
After successfully surviving the final 20 minutes, England pushed forward with renewed vigour in the first half of extra time. The Three Lions came within an inch of re-taking the lead in the eighth minute of extra time through John Stones, whose best Didier Drogba impression was matched by
That John Stones header would have been lethal. Sheesh. #WorldCup— J-Mike (@JMike_the_Joker) July 11, 2018
In the last minute of the first period of extra time, Croatia were denied an almost certain goal by Jordan Pickford. The Everton shot stopper, with arguably the greatest Peter Schmeichel impression of all time, denied Mario Mandzukic his second goal of the tournament with an astonishing save:
After coming close at the end of the first half of extra time, at the start of the second half, Mandzukic finally gave Croatia the lead. Channeling his inner Gerd Muller, the Juventus forward stole in on the left of the penalty area to volley the ball into the back of the net:
Super Mario!!!!!— Ciarán Roddy (@CiaranRoddy) July 11, 2018
Mandzukic's goal proved to be enough for Croatia, as England could not find a way through the dogged Croatian defence for a second time.
Despite being beaten on the night, England fans up and down the country remained optimistic about their beloved national team's future:
Proud of the boys!! 女女女— Shaun decordova (@sdsosa1) July 11, 2018
Proud of the boys no matter what gbeng— Ethan (@Ethan_Mckeand) July 11, 2018