It was a night to celebrate for the fans as Croatia reached their first-ever World Cup final with a thrilling extra time victory over Harry Kane’s England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic found the back of the net for Croatia as they came from behind to beat England in the semi-final on Wednesday.
The jubilation among the fans and players was visible at the Luzhniki Stadium, especially after Mandzukic’s extra time winner.
Ecstatic Croatian fans honked their car horns and let off fireworks in Zagreb after their team set up a mouthwatering final against France.
Mandzukic put Croatia ahead in the 109th minute, giving the Balkan nation its first ever place in the finals in history, a result that surprised even some fans.
“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 4 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, white and blue national flag, and after the final whistle Croatian TV showed wild celebrations breaking out in towns and cities.
In the seaside city of Split, fans wearing red and white checked Croatian shirts gathered in the bars, cafes and squares in the late afternoon sun, singing songs in anticipation of the night ahead.
Cars and vans drove through the streets with Croatian flags stretched tightly across their bonnets, honking their horns at each other as workers clocked out for the day early and headed home to watch the game.
When Ivan Perisic’s equaliser hit the back of the net primal roars of triumph rang from the cafe terraces and through the open windows. The sound was eclipsed only by the joy that greeted Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time winner and the impromptu fireworks celebration in the wake of the final whistle.
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.”
Source: India Today