World Cup: Jubilant Croatia fans revel in semi-final win over England

Croatia's fans watch a broadcast of the World Cup semi-final in Zagreb.
Croatia's fans watch a broadcast of the World Cup semi-final in Zagreb. PHOTO: REUTERS
In an overtime stunner, Croatia advanced over England with a 2-1 final score as it heads to a World Cup showdown with France, the country's first trip ever to the finals.
Croatia's supporters celebrate their team victory at Red Square in Moscow early on July 12, 2018.
Croatia's supporters celebrate their team victory at Red Square in Moscow early on July 12, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

Croatia's supporters celebrate their win in the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England near the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, on July 11, 2018.
Croatia's supporters celebrate their win in the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England near the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, on July 11, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
Croatia's supporters celebrate their win in the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England on Nikolskaya street in centrak in Moscow, on early July 12, 2018.
Croatia's supporters celebrate their win in the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England on Nikolskaya street in centrak in Moscow, on early July 12, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

ZAGREB/MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Jubilant Croatian fans honked their car horns and let off fireworks after their soccer team beat England 2-1 in extra time on Wednesday (July 11) to clinch a place in the World Cup finals against France.

Mario Mandzukic scored in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium giving the Balkan nation its first ever place in the finals in history, surprising even some fans with the result.

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals cannot be compared to anything," said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

The country of around four million people came to a standstill as Croatians watched the game on screens in squares and cafes.

In Zagreb, the capital, more than 10,000 people gathered in the central square to watch the match despite rainy weather.

Loud cheers rang out after each goal, fans waved the red and white national flag, and after the final whistle Croatian TV showed wild celebrations breaking out in towns and cities.

In Moscow, Croatia fans said they were taken aback by their side's win.

 

"We were planning to leave, but now we have to stay until Monday," said Sinisa Pavlek, a Croatian living in Germany as he emerged from the stadium with a broad smile on his face.

Asked if Croatia could beat France in the final on Sunday, his girlfriend Marina said: "Of course. We beat England."

Eric Amsalem, a 48-year-old Croatian fan with his face painted in the colours of the national flag said: "It's a small country. You see what's happening. Everybody has come. It's the best feeling in a long time."