MOSCOW - Croatia Wednesday crushed England’s World Cup dream with a 2-1 extra-time victory in their semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium.

England made a dream start with Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute free-kick securing a 1-0 lead. But Croatia came out stronger in the second half and Ivan Perisic levelled in the 67th minute. The teams traded blows for the rest of the 90 minutes but were forced into extra time locked at 1-1. After a tense first period Mario Mandzukic then broke England hearts in the 109th minute.

Croatia’s opponents in Moscow on Sunday will be France, who progressed to the final with a 1-0 win against Belgium in their semi-final at the St Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

In extra time, a corner provided England with their best chance of retaking the lead. Trippier whipped it in from the right, Stones rose highest but Vrsaljko made a firm defensive header on the line. Croatia swapped an exhausted Rebic for Kramaric. They were still looking the fitter of the two sides, with Rashford and Rose England’s only fresh outlets.

A low cross from Perisic towards Mandzukic caused a mini-drama in the England box, but Pickford did enough to force a corner just before the interval in extra-time. Modric took it short and tried to find a gap to attack but ended up heaving his cross out of play just before the referee’s whistle.

Croatia forced an early corner after the break, catching England with a quick routine. Marcelo Brozovic sauntered into the box and met the ball with a shot that blazed over the crossbar.

England then slipped behind for the first time in the match. Perisic beat Trippier to a loose ball, flicking a backwards header into the box. Mandzukic was onside, stealing a march on the defenders and rifling low past Pickford.

Gareth Southgate kept faith with the same side which has taken England to the semi-finals, naming an unchanged starting XI. Three minutes had gone when England won a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Kyle Walker’s long ball pushed England upfield, with Jesse Lingard’s quick feet helping to free Dele Alli, who was bundled over by Luka Modric. Trippier stood over the ball and bent his delivery beyond the wall and into the net. It was his first goal for England, and the team’s ninth from a set piece in the tournament.

England attempted to scramble a quick second, Raheem Sterling haring after balls over the top three times in the next five minutes – each time narrowly failing to go clear. Having successfully defended a corner England got their first in the 12th minute, Ashley Young delivering from the left. Harry Maguire, who scored from a similar position against Sweden in England’s previous match, met it first but headed over. The Leicester defender was on the end of the next one too, Trippier winning and delivering from the right but his downward header was wide.

Modric began to push Croatia on with some finessed passing but Kyle Walker snuffed out a half-chance for Mario Mandzukic with a neat interception. With 20 minutes gone Ante Rebic cut inside from the right wing, skipped past Young’s tackle and shaped to shoot from 20 yards but John Stones blocked.

Croatia almost gave England a gift of a second when Danijel Subasic chipped a pass to Ivan Stranic, who took a nonchalant first touch straight to Sterling. The forward took a few steps towards goal before looking for Kane, who took the pass in an offside position before slotting wide.

Sterling’s pace continued to worry Croatia, Lovren knocking him to the ground after losing the race for Alli’s pass down the line. Young floated the free-kick into the box but Subasic punch clear.

After 30 minutes England came close to picking the defence apart again. Lingard’s clever pass found Kane, who opened his body and shot low at Subasic. The goalkeeper saved and Kane tried to squeeze the rebound inside the post but Subasic pawed away the ball. A late flag appeared. England were then pinned back for a couple of minutes, Modric finding men in space.

With 10 minutes to go before the break, Lingard spurned a fine chance. Kane, dropping deep into a No 10 role, released Alli who rolled the ball across the box. Lingard was unmarked and curled wide from 18 yards.

With seconds to go until half-time England put themselves under pressure. Miscommunication between the back three resulted in Jordan Pickford clearing under pressure. He could only find a Croatian shirt and when the ball was fed back for Perisic to shoot. England rallied to clear the ball and they went half-time leading 1-0. Rebic was booked early in the second half for leading with his elbow when challenging Walker in the air. England fashioned another decent chance when Trippier’s volleyed cross found Kane, who stooped to head it goalwards and Lovren defended.

The game opened up with the ball travelling end to end. A Henderson pass allowed Sterling to sneak in on the right-hand channel and charge towards the six-yard box. After checking his run and transferring his weight he went down as Domagoj Vida flung a boot in his direction but the referee Cuneyt Cakir waved play on.

Croatia were building pressure and they levelled in the 67th minute. Vrsaljko hung a cross in from the right and Perisic volleyed, leaving Pickford groping at air and England complaining without success about high feet.

England were rattled and almost coughed up a second a few minutes later. A bouncing ball was mis-read by all three defenders and Perisic took advantage, pulling left and slamming a low shot against the far post. Rebic attempted to turn home the rebound but Pickford gathered.

England sent on Marcus Rashford for Sterling and announced himself with a dribble into the area, opening up a shooting chance for Henderson but the Liverpool captain was wide. England again looked like buckling at the back when Walker and Trippier failed to deal with a sweep-up, the latter’s back pass falling short. Pickford again had to clear under pressure.

With seven minutes of normal time left Mandzukic chested the ball down eight yards from goal, striking with a swivel but straight at Pickford.

Rashford won a free-kick as the game ticked into added time, with Trippier standing over it. His delivery was sweet and reached Kane at the far post, but the England captain nodded a couple of yards wide and the teams were forced into extra time locked at 1-1. England made one more change for extra-time, replacing Young with Danny Rose, while Eric Dier came on as a more naturally defensive option.