Despite taking the lead early in the first half on Wednesday, England suffered the familiar story of World Cup heartbreak as Croatia equalised in the second half and then claimed the victor in the second period of extra time.
France take on Croatia in the final on Sunday, while England and Belgium offer plenty of tempting options when they contest the third-place playoff.
England manager Gareth Southgate hopes his team can ride the momentum generated by their run to the World Cup semi-finals and follow the path Germany took to the top of worldwide football.
"We've set a benchmark for how we work", he said.
"To become a winning team there are hurdles you have to overcame - and we've surpassed many of them".
"I am immensely proud by the way the players have played and we can see by the reaction of the supporters, they felt the same". He was in charge when Croatia beat England twice, including the famous win at Wembley in 2007.
Fans packed into Manchester's Castlefield Bowl Arena for last night's game
"A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result", said one man in a red England shirt who declined to give his name.
"This was a wonderful opportunity and you can't guarantee they'll come again, but equally we want to be a team who hit quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals".
"We're here to improve every time we play", he continued". Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
"We blew our chances", 17-year-old Josh Ogunde said after watching the 2-1 semi-final defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.
"We have two days to prepare".
"We wanted to go on and win it and we thought we had enough to go through but it wasn't to be. Belgium have already beaten us (1-0 in the group stage) so we'd like to address that".