It started feel like an eternity after the first England goal was scored. Croatia, with one of the smallest population in this tournament at 4.171 million, is off to the World Cup final for the first time in team history.
The Three Lions fully deserved their first half lead and the only disappointing aspect was that they didn't go into the interval further ahead.
England captain Harry Kane was heartbroken after the loss but admitted that England had paid the price for being too passive in the second half after a bright opening 40 minutes.
Asked for the reasons behind Croatia's comeback, Dalic said: "Because we were the better team in all segments of the game".
"I think this was our best game". We respected them because we analysed them.
Though England will return to the country without the World Cup trophy, Kane could bring home an individual award as the tournament's top scorer.
"We were motivated and what I told these players before the game was "there's no pressure, no nerves, don't lose your head - you've reached the semi-final, be proud and enjoy your football". It hurts, I don't know what else to say, it hurts.
With the bonus of an extra day's rest and Croatia having been taken to extra-time for the third time in succession, France will be far the fresher of the two sides in Sunday's final.
However, they have taken a gruelling route to the final and the French will be warm favourites.
Despite the much-vaunted attack of teenager Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, France's defense proved the difference as they shut down Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku and they showed they will be hard to beat on Sunday.
What is not in doubt is their quality.
World Cup Daily: Croatia's dream goes on while England wake up.
As well as scoring, Perisic also hit the post for the second straight game and set up Mandzukic's victor, heading a poor clearance toward the Juventus striker to score.
This was the biggest challenge of Jordan Henderson's career.
Kieran Trippier's maiden global goal fired England ahead early in Moscow, but Ivan Perisic levelled in the second half before Mandzukic sent Croatia through to a showdown against France on Sunday.
In the ninth minute of extra time, a corner gave England defender Stones a glorious header on goal - but Croatia dedender Šime Vrsaljko was able to head it away.
Vrsaljko, who plays for Atletico Madrid, had struggled to be ready for the match after playing in two previous extra-time matches, but he found the strength to lift his exhausted, battered team to a comeback win. The opportunity will there for them to win that game, but they were not good enough.
After the match, England's fans stayed behind to praise their team.