England fell one win short of its goal of reaching the World Cup final, surrendering a 1-0 lead in Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. The injuries started to pile up, legs looked gassed and the opportunity to seal it became reality for Mandzukic, who sneaked behind the back of England defender John Stones to score the victor.
In Gareth Southgate, England have a manager who has brought new vigor to the national team setup, and who has managed to transform a side who crashed out to minnows Iceland at Euro 2016 into World Cup semifinalists.
Fan footage has emerged on social media showing England attempting to kick-off and score while Croatian players were off the field celebrating their second goal.
"We deserved the victory", said match-winner Mandzukic.
"There were times when Kieran Trippier was suddenly appearing and Kyle Walker would try and hit him with a 50-yard pass".
I'm hugely proud of what we've done - I couldn't have asked for any more.
England, playing with zip and objective, looked sharp going forward as a rattled Croatia side tried to regroup, with Raheem Sterling proving a real handful but the score remained 1-0 at the break.
It stayed level at 90 minutes, meaning Croatia faced extra time for the third successive game, having got past Denmark and Russian Federation on penalties. Croatian fans were elated; English fans fumed, claiming the goal should've been disallowed because of a high kick.
But Zlatko Dalić's side fought back through Ivan Perisic, before Mario Mandzukic netted the victor in extra-time.
"Until they scored [the equaliser] we were always under cosh", Kane said. "It hurts a lot, [and will hurt] for a while".
He added: "Let me tell you, whether we win or lose the game, my life will not change", he said.
"They'll be the best team we've played in terms of what they're capable of doing with the ball, and what their individuals are capable of, definitely", Southgate said of tonight's opposition. It's been a fantastic journey.
"We gave it everything, I know we're gonna look back and say we could have done this and what but at the end of the day it was small margins in a big game and it didn't go our way today", said striker Kane, now the tournament's top scorer with six goals.
"We've left everything out there, you can look at the goals and the chances, but I don't think over the six or seven weeks we've been together we could've given any more".
"I have been in sport in different areas for long enough to know what my life is day to day". Matt Dickinson and Jeremy Cross joined Neil Ashton on the World Cup Supplement to reflect on events in Moscow. There will be legitimate questions about how much they have left in the tank.
But the bottom line is they will now be facing France in the final: not England.
"We had a good spell we went one nil up and we had a couple of chances we're we could have got another".
"It's not something I'm really thinking about at the moment to be honest, it's not the game we wanted to be in", Kane admitted.
Hazard shone at times but Kevin De Bruyne was quiet and Manchester United striker Lukaku was a shadow of the player he had been earlier in the tournament, even though Belgium enjoyed most of the possession.