Regrets mixed with pride as England fans digest World Cup heartbreak

Croatia's Dejan Lovren: I am one of the best defenders in the world

Regrets mixed with pride as England fans digest World Cup heartbreak

"It was an experience for us and one we wanted to win", said Pickford, who allowed only six goals across all of England's six matches.

Yet while it was complete focus on the job in hand as the players prepared for what is the most high-pressure game of their global careers, the relaxed vibe surrounding the England base camp in Repino remained.

The French topped Belgium 1-0 in their semifinal matchup on Tuesday to advance to the final and have a shot at winning their second World Cup final (they took the title in 1998).

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Wasn't to be this time but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud". Take this gathering in London's Hyde Park, where thousands came together to watch the game on large public outdoor screens.

Dejan Lovren answered his critics for as Croatia beat England.

Southgate said playing regularly in big matches was a key stage of development for his players and that the way they dropped away in the second half was perhaps a result of their inexperience.

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Josh Quinn, 22, from Bristol, said: "It was a disappointing performance from England".

George Lee, 59, from Hull, also backed Southgate's young team to get to the final, predicting a 2-1 win. "That makes me proud".

England manager Gareth Southgate insists his side will face their toughest challenge of the World Cup to date when they lock horns with Croatia in the semi-final. "Everyone is born with it, we have good players, and I believe they will bring the cup home, but we'll see on Monday morning at 3 o'clock". Three times now we've been a goal down and have come back, and that really says a lot about our team spirit. You don't get that reaction if you haven't played as well as you have.

In a sea of England jerseys, there was one lone Croatia shirt in the packed pub - two Croatian fans in total, who embraced in a hug after their momentous win.

"Maybe [that was] a outcome of being ahead and being the least experienced team in the tournament with the chance to get to a World Cup final", he added.

"For us as a team, it's another chance to create a small piece of history".

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