Croatians were gearing up on Saturday for the "match of a generation" against hosts Russian Federation in the World Cup quarter-finals as tens of thousands prepared to watch the game on giant screens.
Liverpool's No.6 played the full game in what was a gripping quarter-final tie.
Then Russia left their Croatian counterparts in hot water (well maybe luke warm) as Denis Cheryshev conceded in the 31st minute of the game.
The quarterfinal at Sochi on Saturday (NZT Sunday) was tied 1-1 after regulation and 2-2 after extra time, forcing both Croatia and Russian Federation to a shootout for the second consecutive game.
"First of all, I want to thank the team, to everyone who took part in the team I'm proud of them, I love them like my family... we became one family...", the 29-year-old said.
While he has only scored once at the World Cup this year, Mario Mandzukic has been a key member of Croatia's starting XI - his work in attack and defence setting the tone for the Balkan nation. "That is something we need to use against England, they are fantastic", Lovren said. We lost in a fair and great game.
Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against England after a night of unremitting tension in Sochi, ending the remarkable campaign of a team ranked 70th in the world. In an earlier match against Denmark, a picture of her cheering Croatia from the stands along with other fans has gone viral.
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One fan, Bob Green, 53, from Stamford, in Lincolnshire, said he believed more England fans were making the journey. Harry Maguire opened up the scoring in the first half as England continued to excel on set pieces and free kicks.
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Neighboring countries will clash in the first of two World Cup semifinal matches Tuesday when France and Belgium battle for a berth in the World Cup final.
Croatia is in the semi-final of the World Cup.
Much of the build-up to the quarter-final match has centred on the iconic 1998 team as the present meets the past.
"We'll have a look but we've got until August 9 to do that and we'll try and bring somebody in, hopefully on loan". "To score four goals is good, but if the team doesn't go forward, it's meaningless".
"In the second half and in extra time we dominated, we should have finished the job before penalties, but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama", he added.