England's players had been criticised for their recent tournament showings after a group stage exit in the last World Cup and being knocked out of Euro 2016 by tiny Iceland. Germany then reached the semi-finals in their next five major tournaments - winning the World Cup in 2014 - before their shock group-stage exit in Russian Federation.
Celebrities, former players and royalty have been praising the England team for their "beautiful World Cup run", calling them "heroes" who have made the country proud.
Fans stationed behind the goal roared as a young boy wearing the Peresic name ran a scintillating line from nearly halfway to score in a packed away net.
A World Cup photographer became part of Croatia's celebration.
In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic they have the midfield engines of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, while the scorer of their victor against the Three Lions, Mario Mandzukic, won the Champions League with Bayern Munich and now plays for Juventus.
The game turned in overtime on two plays - one on which a defender was alert, the other on which a defender was caught napping.
Even if the result is quickly forgotten by the fans, it will be remembered in English Premier League locker rooms.
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He was in charge when Croatia beat England twice, including the famous win at Wembley in 2007. It was hard to say anything that will make them feel better at his moment.
"Semi-finals, they've done what they had to do, they took us to the semi-finals".
"It's not the game we wanted to be in, as a team".
"I think that's maybe something for a couple of days time, at the moment we all feel the pain of this defeat", he told reporters. They have given us so much to shout about.
Given they arrived in Russian Federation as rank outsiders, however, Southgate was invited to detail the positives from a campaign that appears to have repaired the strained relationship between England and its team. He has built a team, and found a system that the players believe in.
The Three Lions' failure to reach their first World Cup final in 52 years was greeted with desolation in the stadium in Moscow.
"A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result", said another England fan.