MOSCOW: England fans were left devastated as the nation missed out on a place in the World Cup final.
The dream ended for supporters in Moscow and at home as Gareth Southgate’s men lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final after extra time.
Millions tuned into the eagerly anticipated match, with sorrowful scenes up and down the country after days of singing “It’s coming home”.
Crowds gathered in London’s Hyde Park, Millennium Square in Leeds, Nottingham Castle, Birmingham’s Archway outdoor cinema – and even Los Angeles.
England came to a standstill as the 7pm kick-off approached, with roads deserted and shopping centres abandoned as fans dashed home to catch the historic game.
The 23-man England squad, which has an average age of just over 26 and was the tournament’s third youngest, had the hopes and expectations of a nation on their shoulders.
But place in the World Cup final against France was not to be.
Within the first five minutes, English fans were given cause for celebration when Kieran Trippier scored a free kick, giving his side a dream 1-0 lead.
The crowd in Hyde Park went berserk as England scored, and those watching on the huge screen were drenched in beer as plastic cups flew through the air amid wild celebrations.
Some fans had tears in their eyes as they could not believe the dream start.
In Leeds, the crowd leapt up as if a goal had been scored when the half-time whistle blew.
But there were stunned reactions as Croatia scored the equaliser through Ivan Perisic.
It would have been the nation’s first final since they won in 1966 but an extra time goal from Mario Mandzukic left dreams shattered.
Many fans had their heads in their hands, while others shook their heads in disbelief.
Police estimated as many as 10,000 England fans were in the Russian capital for the game.