Mario Mandzukic of Croatia celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
But Croatia, having won on penalties against Denmark and Russian Federation in the last two rounds, saw the game out, dousing the World Cup dream of Gareth Southgate's side that had gone from the improbable to the possible over the last month in Russian Federation.
The injuries started to pile up, legs looked gassed and the opportunity to seal it became reality for Mandzukic, who sneaked behind the back of England defender John Stones to score the victor. In allowing the game to slip, this young England team finally showed their naivety.
'I know England may have thought it was a bit tongue and cheek a few weeks ago, but you've got to focus on just one game at a time.
"That will help us, but the chances are 50-50, I believe, because everybody deserves to be at the semi-final".
This Croatia team doesn't know how to quit.
"We experienced the extra time and penalties (against Colombia) and we know the physical and emotional outcome of that", he said. "The things is we were just trying to like.we were happy and you weren't happy for us being happy at that time".
"This has been the topic of discussion the past 20 years", Dalic said. We were a goal down in three games in a row.
The goal prompted wild celebrations, after fighting back from 1-0 down, having looked gone for all money in the first half after England's Kieran Trippier curled home an exquisite free kick.
Dalic's team is packed with quality led by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, while they also possess the talents of Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Madzukic, who can change the outcome of a game with their quality.
Croatia, competing in their first semifinal since the 1998 World Cup, got their equalizer in the 68th minute, with winger Ivan Perisic lunging ahead of defender Kyle Walker to poke the ball into the net. England had a free kick wide, but Subasic was able to come in with the save.
But it was Croatia who struck in the 109th minute when Perisic won a header on the edge of the box and the ball dropped for Mandzukic whose firm low finish beat Pickford.
"This is a miracle".
It was his first goal for his country, England's 12th of the tournament and ninth from a set-piece, but they should have added more from open play as they revelled in the space they were being given in the first half.
For England, who captured so many hearts with their run to the semifinals, there will be the same disappointment that has haunted them at big tournaments across the world for 52 years. and counting.