Jordan Pickford’s England were edged out 2-1 by Croatia after extra-time in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow.
Kieran Trippier’s sumptuous free-kick put England ahead on five minutes but Ivan Perisic equalised midway through the second half, before Mario Mandzukic hit the winner in extra time.
Everton goalkeeper Pickford followed up his man-of-the-match display in the quarter-final victory over Sweden with another impressive performance - which included a stunning extra-time stop from Mandzukic - but it is Croatia who will face France in Sunday’s World Cup final after a night of high drama.
England got off to a dream start, Trippier curling home from 25 yards to put the Three Lions ahead.
Buoyed the opener, England continued to play on the front foot.
Just two minutes after Trippier’s strike, Pickford confidently collected a Croatia cross before volleying a brilliant pass that almost set Raheem Sterling free.
Gareth Southgate’s men were oozing confidence and Harry Kane had a golden chance to double their lead on the half-hour mark. Played through on goal by Jesse Lingard, his initial effort was saved by Croatia 'keeper Danijel Subasic before the Tottenham Hotspur man hit the post from the rebound.
Pickford had to make his first save of note just two minutes later. After good work from Luka Modric, Ante Rebic rifled a shot towards goal but the Everton stopper got everything behind his stinging effort.
Croatia gradually got a foothold in the game during the second half, however, and after a spell of pressure Perisic expertly turned home Sime Vrsaljko’s cross on 68 minutes to make it 1-1.
The Inter Milan winger almost turned the game on its head four minutes later, his driven shot cannoning off the post. The rebound fell to Rebic but Pickford comfortably held his tame effort.
The game became stretched and Mandzukic was next to threaten for Croatia but Pickford was equal to his well-hit shot from inside the area.
Into extra time they went and former Everton defender John Stones almost put Southgate’s men back in front but his thumping header was headed off the line by Vrsaljko.
Pickford was then forced into an outstanding, courageous point-blank stop in the dying moments of the first half of extra time. Perisic’s wicked delivery was met by Mandzukic five yards out but the Blues ‘keeper brilliantly blocked the Juventus striker’s shot with his leg.
Mandzukic was not to be denied though and three minutes after the restart, he latched on to Perisic’s header to strike the decisive blow and send Croatia into Sunday’s final.