"We were really comfortable in the game", said England defender Harry Maguire, who twice rose highest at corners in the first 15 minutes to send headers wide of Croatia's goal.
But after the game many fans were sobbing while others looked to the future with confidence after their once improbable dreams of a first World Cup final in more than 50 years were dashed by Croatia.
Mario Mandzukic scored in the 109th minute of the semi-final to secure a 2-1 win after extra-time in Moscow.
Unlike the Olympics, where winning third place comes with a bronze medal and some sense of accomplishment, at the World Cup it's only a brutal reminder of how close you came. That team also exceeded expectations and won the adulation of fans at home with a beloved center forward who played for Tottenham.
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Still the 36-minute video of the confrontation posted by Mia Irizarry , the woman targeted in the vide left many people upset. When the new officers arrived, they arrested Trybus on charges of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
The Russia 2018 World Cup has produced a number of great stars and shown a glimpse of what's to come from future talents in the attractive game.
"We were planning to leave, but now we have to stay until Monday", said Sinisa Pavlek, a Croatian living in Germany as he emerged from the stadium with a broad smile on his face.
England remain in the tournament and still have to play the third place play-off - dubbed "the game no-one wants to play" against Belgium at 3pm on Saturday, July 14.
"The desire of the players and the hunger of the players is there for them to do it".
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Croatia's legs at the start seemed to carry the weight of so many minutes in the knockout stage, and a pressing England went up quickly.
Even a late rendition of God Save the Queen failed to rally the 8,000-strong crowd at Castlefield Bowl at the start of extra time.
"It's a young team, the majority of the players will play in the next World Cup with more experience at club level", the Portuguese boss told RT.
It's tough to call any match at the World Cup "meaningless" - the tournament only happens once every four years, so every game holds a certain value just on how rarely they occur. "We will see who wins, though it makes no difference to me".
A day earlier, France beat Belgium 1-0 to secure its spot in the final. "Mistakes were always going to happen but I think to be a top team you have got to play in that style". "Thank you boss from the whole nation", the 20-year-old said on Twitter with a picture of himself embracing the England manager.
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