Jason Pine looks back on the World Cup semifinal thriller between England and Croatia

What happened this morning?
Croatia broke English hearts, coming from 1-0 down to beat the Three Lions 2-1 in extra time and advance to the World Cup final for the first time.

Kieran Trippier's sumptuous fifth-minute free-kick put England 1-0 up before Ivan Perisic equalised midway through the second half.

Mario Mandzukic was Croatia's match winner, swivelling to power home the decisive goal in the 109th minute.

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Heroes

Kieran Trippier has been likened to David Beckham for his quality in dead-ball situations and he showed why, bending a free-kick over the defensive wall to give England a very early lead with his first international goal.

Trippier's father is a passionate football fan, famously erecting a flagpole to fly the England flag in his front yard and ignoring local council pleas to take it down.

Defender Kyle Walker put his body on the line to block a goal-bound shot midway through the second half, taking the full force of a rasping drive just below the waist-line. Eye-watering stuff.

Shortly after that, Ivan Perisic nipped in ahead of Walker to guide home Croatia's equaliser off the studs of his left boot.

But it was veteran striker Mario Mandzukic who wrote the biggest headlines, picking himself up after being clattered by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford late in the first half of extra time to drill home the game's winning goal in unerring fashion and send Croatia through to football's biggest day.

Villains

England should have sewn this game up by halftime, with at least three clear-cut chances to put the game beyond Croatia's reach.

Instead, they were forced to adopt a backs-to-the-wall approach for the last quarter of the game and didn't manage a single shot on target in the second half.

Stat chat
Croatia, with just four million people, will be the smallest country by population to play in a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950.

Kieran Trippier's goal was the earliest in a World Cup semifinal since 1958.

Tottenham Hotspur players have scored 12 goals at this World Cup, the most by any club at the tournament, one ahead of Barcelona.

England scored nine goals from set pieces at this tournament, the most by any team in a single World Cup tournament since 1966.

England haven't beaten two European nations at a World Cup since 1982, when they beat Czechoslovakia and France.

Before this game, Jordan Henderson hadn't been on the losing side in any of his last 30 England matches (W23 D7), the longest unbeaten run of any England player in history.

Harry Kane has scored on six of the seven days of the week for England, with Wednesday the only day he hasn't scored on. Only Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard have scored on every day of the week for England.

England became just the second side to be ahead at half-time in a World Cup semifinal and fail to win, joining Italy v Argentina, 1990.

Croatia is the second team in World Cup history to play three straight extra-time matches at a single World Cup, joining England in 1990.

They said what?
Gary Lineker, former England striker, now pundit: "Dig deep, breathe, start again. And that's just us watching. It's supposed to be fun, isn't it?"

Henry Winter, veteran English football writer: "England gave everything. A privilege to have covered their run at the World Cup. Young team with huge potential. Heads held high."

Did you know?
Croatia are the first team to come from behind in three straight knockout stage matches to advance at the World Cup.

What's next?
England will meet Belgium in the playoff for third and fourth in St Petersburg on Sunday morning at 2am (NZT).

Then, it's the World Cup Final โ€“ France v Croatia in Moscow at 3am Monday morning.