England's World Cup dreams came to an end after Croatia rallied to prevent Gareth Southgate's men reaching the country's first final in 52 years.
Football will not be coming home at the end of an extraordinary summer after the Three Lions' hopes of replicating the heroes of 1966 were extinguished in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium semi-final.
Kieran Trippier's exceptional early free-kick had England dreaming of facing France on Sunday, but Croatia will line-up in their first World Cup final after Ivan Perisic levelled and Mario Mandzukic struck to secure a 2-1 extra-time win.
While few predicted Southgate's side getting anywhere near Sir Alf Ramsey's champions at the start of the summer, this bold, young side had looked capable of doing the unthinkable in Russia.
England's hopes grew as their third World Cup semi-final started with a fifth-minute stunner as Trippier curled home a free-kick that his idol David Beckham would have been proud of.
But the Three Lions were unable to press home their advantage and Perisic snuck ahead of Kyle Walker to draw Croatia level midway through the second half, taking the match to extra-time.
Mandzukic struck the killer blow after John Stones' effort was cleared off the line, with England players collapsing on the floor as the final whistle ended their hopes of glory.
Southgate, unsurprisingly, kept his composure despite suffering more semi-final heartache, having missed the crucial penalty in the Euro 96 shootout defeat to Germany.
It is a galling evening for his team but the future looks bright, even if it is hard after a gut punch that leaves them facing Belgium in Saturday's third-placed play-off.
By Ger McCarthy
5 mins – Trippier nails a beauty
Dele Alli is knocked over on the edge of the penalty area. Kieran Trippier lines up the ensuing free-kick and picks the perfect moment to open his international account. That’s England’s ninth goal from a set-piece at this World Cup.
14 mins – Maguire heads over
England win another corner when Kieran Trippier flicks the ball off Ivan Strinic. The Tottenham defender’s out-swinger finds Harry Maguire but the Leicester player directs his downward header wide of an upright.
29 mins – Kane should score
Oh Harry. Jesse Lingard releases England’s captain with a perfectly weighted pass. Kane attempts to slip the ball beyond Danijel Subasic but the Croatian goalkeeper parries. From a tight angle, Kane strikes a post and Croatia clear the danger. Jesse Lingard wastes another chance shortly after and England should be 3-0 up.
45 mins – Lovren penalty shout
Dejan Lovren is hauled to the ground by Harry Maguire on the stroke of half time but referee Cuneyt Cakir and FIFA’s VAR officials are having none of it.
56 mins – England press for a second
Jesse Lingard’s attempt is deflected out for a corner by Dejan Lovren. Croatia struggle to clear the resulting corner and Harry Kane’s attempted diving header from Kieran Trippier’s cross is hacked away by Lovren.
68 mins – Perisic equalises
A period of sustained Croatian pressure ends in a goal when Sime Vrsaljko crosses towards the far post and Ivan Perisic ghosts in ahead of Kyle Walker to direct a high-flying shot past Jordan Pickford. Game on.
71 mins – Perisic hits the post
Hesitancy in the English defence presents Croatia with an opportunity to take the lead. Ivan Perisic beats Pickford with a daisy-cutter only for his effort to strike a post. Ante Rebic is unable to turn in the rebound.
83 mins – Pickford to the rescue
England are floundering as Marcelo Brozovic picks out Mario Mandzukic. The Juventus hit-man’s stinging drive forces Jordan Pickford into a fine save. Southgate’s side are longing for the final whistle.
98 mins – Stones header cleared off the line
Another pin-point Kieran Trippier delivery is met by John Stones but the Manchester City defender’s goal-bound header is magnificently cleared off the line by Sime Vrsaljko.
105 mins – Pickford denies Mandzukic
Ivan Perisic’s send a devilish ball into the six-yard box and Jordan Pickford bravely prevents Mario Mandzukic’s first-time attempt from hitting the net.
109 mins – Mandzukic wins it for Croatia
England fail to clear their lines and Ivan Perisic heads the ball into Mario Mandzukic’s path. One swift, left-footed finish later and Croatia are in the World Cup final.