"It's brought everyone together at a time when they needed it", said teacher Louise Smith, 34, as she celebrated the game in Hyde Park with friends.
"It's the third time I've cried in the last two weeks - Denmark, Russia, now this", he said.
Mario Mandzukic completed the turnaround around with the victor on 109 minutes to send his country through to Sunday's final against France.
Before then, in its World Cup debut in 1998, Croatia did reach the semifinals, where it lost to France. For me, Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida have been fantastic centre backs, among the best in the World Cup.
Across the city, the Grove Pub and Restaurant on Stafford Street was at capacity with hopeful England fans.
Who do you think will win the 2018 World Cup?
Instead, the loss left some in tears. "I'm very happy for my players, we showed character and the right mentality, it was very hard for us tonight".
He said: "I never, never, never, ever mention my own history".
Peter Corcoran watched on the edge of his seat, alongside his family and friends.
As Croatia were playing hosts Russia in the quarterfinal of the World Cup in Sochi, a woman dressed in their national team jersey celebrated every one of their highs in the VIP box, even as Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino and Russia PM Dimitry Medvedev looked on in stoic silence. I could be with my parents, eating and drinking and watching the game on TV.
"That belongs to a lot of French people who lived through it, but not to the young generation". For many Croatians, the Yugoslav Wars - that ended with the formation of their country - started with one.
Mandzukic was the hero for Croatia as he turned in Rakitic's header in extra-time to set up a final against France.
"We have already achieved something big by reaching the semi-finals".
Teenager Kylian Mbappe has come alive in this tournament and became the first teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match since Pele in 1958 when he hit a brace in the 4-3 round-of-16 win over Argentina.
Crowds of glum-looking fans swiftly streamed out of the venue, as some stayed behind to applaud the young team's surprising success in Russian Federation.
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