As seismic sporting shocks go, Wednesday saw one of the biggest in years.
Roger Federer, tennis' 20-time major-winning great, squandered a two-set lead and a match point to lose to Kevin Anderson in his Wimbledon quarter-final.
Federer's upset was a preview to the main event, it turned out. At Luzhniki Stadium, Croatia looked finished, a spent force, heading forlornly for the weird, sullen occasion that is the World Cup's third-place play-off. And although they were hardly playing tournament favourites in England, their fightback was worthy of sharing a day with Anderson's extraordinary tale.
This was a first semi-final at any event for England since 1996; for Croatia, it was their first foray into the last four since the fabled team of World Cup 1998. They have never been to a final at all. History was always going to be made in Moscow, which is just the way a game of this magnitude should be.
This was Croatia's best side since that Davor Suker vintage, a second 'golden generation' who humbled Argentina in the group stage, who battled from a goal down to see off Denmark and hosts Russia in the knockouts to reach this point. They have survived turmoil surrounding their Football Association, mounting expectations and two penalty shoot-outs. Theirs is an uncommon, unbreakable spirit.
It looked as though Gareth Southgate's motley crew of malcontents would be one step too far. Again, their goal came from a set-piece, for the ninth time at these finals. Kieran Trippier, not even a Tottenham regular until last season, further underlined the burgeoning comparisons with former England captain David Beckham by stroking home the Three Lions' first direct free-kick goal at a World Cup since Beckham himself in 2006.
Croatia had possession, as expected; Luka Modric was the man they looked to for inspiration, as expected. But a wild shot from Sime Vrsaljko, passed fit for this match late on, summed up a first half in which they looked anxious and bereft of ideas.
England were not quite at match point, but it felt as though the headlines were already being written when Croatia struck. Vrsaljko, showing why he was rushed back into the team after getting injured against Russia, bent a fine cross in from the right that Ivan Perisic met with a boot, steering the ball into the net despite Kyle Walker's best efforts.
The momentum shift was incredible. Modric and Ivan Rakitic suddenly began to control the middle, the ball coming back time and again against an England back three who looked frozen with anxiety in the bright Luzhniki lights, the men ahead of them unable to keep possession long enough to let them breathe.
Perisic, now level with Suker on four World Cup goals, later hit the base of the post, Harry Kane missed a header, and chances came and went for John Stones and Mario Mandzukic in extra time. Then, England's defence froze again. A simple header from Perisic, a momentary lapse from Stones, and Mandzukic had fired Croatia into the final for a chance to avenge their 1998 exit at the hands of France.
England defied expectation and united a fractured nation in reaching this stage, and Southgate must take enormous credit for that. But this Croatia, like Kevin Anderson in London hours earlier, refuse to accept they can be beaten. The greatest achievement in their short football history is secure, the pinnacle of the game just 90 minutes away.
|Lovren denies any wrongdoing after perjury charge|
|Plzen boss Vrba slams late mistakes|
|I almost scored as many as Messi - Tagliafico the unlikely hero for Ajax|
|Ronaldo deserves Ballon d´Or not Modric, says Casemiro|
|United fan Rafael - I´ve never lost at City|
|Davis explains abrupt mid-game NFL retirement: ´Football is not for me´|
|Lopes pays tribute to under-fire Lyon coach Genesio|
|Toulon´s Bastareaud handed five-week ban|
|Steelers WR Brown disciplined for missing meeting|
|Arteta refuses to make excuses for Manchester City´s Lyon loss|
|Allegri calls for VAR after Ronaldo´s contentious red card|
|Championship Review: Boro go second, Birmingham still winless|
|Lopetegui: Mariano took his chance|
|Juventus proved their quality after Ronaldo red card - Bonucci|
|Pogba ´class´ impresses Mourinho|
|Man City not Champions League favourites, insists Bernardo Silva|
|Isco calls for Modric to win Ballon d´Or after Champions League win|
|Wawrinka into last eight in St Petersburg|
|Goal hero Pogba is one of the best in the world - Shaw|
|Sane SOS can´t salvage sorry City display|
|Hoffenheim will learn lessons from Shakhtar draw, insists Nagelsmann|
|Valencia 0 Juventus 2: Pjanic hits the spot after Ronaldo sees red|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 CSKA Moscow 2: Krmencik heroics undone by late show|
|Benfica 0 Bayern Munich 2: Sanches returns to haunt his former club|
|Young Boys 0 Manchester United 3: Pogba double inspires Red Devils|
|Manchester City 1 Lyon 2: Cornet and Fekir stun Champions League favourites at home|
|Real Madrid 3 Roma 0: Isco stunner sets up winning start for Champions League holders|
|Ronaldo sent off on Champions League debut for Juve and may miss United reunion|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Hoffenheim 2: Maycon denies Nagelsmann´s side|
|Ajax 3 AEK Athens 0: Tagliafico at the double in opening win|
|Dalot makes debut, Martial starts for Manchester United|
|India avenge ICC Champions Trophy loss with big win over Pakistan|
|Ronaldo makes Champions League debut for Juve|
|Lopetegui picks Navas over Courtois for Champions League clash with Roma|
|Willian very happy under Sarri after Conte row|
|Sarri deals blow to Chelsea kids´ Europa League hopes|
|Mendy out for Manchester City as Aguero makes bench|
|Cech accepts performances key to securing Arsenal stay|
|Monchi rules out Spain return amid Barcelona rumours|
|Durham skittled for 61 and 66 on the same day|
|Kane isn´t a machine – Lamela defends misfiring Spurs star|
|Hazard left out of Chelsea squad for PAOK trip|
|Tiger feels close to ending drought after achieving Tour Championship goal|
|Leno in line for Arsenal chance in Europa League|
|Gazidis leaves Arsenal in good shape, insists Emery|
|Eagles bring back WR Matthews, place Wallace on IR|
|England include Stokes, Hales and uncapped seamer Stone in ODI squad|
|Suwon Bluewings 0 Jeonbuk Motors 3 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Quarter-final comeback ends in spot-kick|
|Australia captain Paine ready to slog it out with Pakistan|
|Nadal pulls out of China Open & Shanghai Masters with knee injury|
|Ostapenko begins Korea Open defence with victory|
|Joshua v Povetkin: How Olympic super heavyweight champions have fared|
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|
|Osaka wows Tokyo crowd on WTA return|
|Excited Povetkin arrives in England for Joshua showdown|
|Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards|
|Kovac: Madrid strong without Ronaldo, Messi is the best|
|ATP suspends umpire Lahyani over Kyrgios ´pep talk´ at US Open|
|North and South Korea seek to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Ampadu signs long-term Chelsea contract|
|Don´t blame Neymar, PSG players all guilty - Thiago Silva|
|Real Madrid seek to plug Ronaldo scoring gap – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Brewers allow Cardinals to inch closer with loss to Reds|
|Manchester is still red – Depay ahead of Lyon´s clash with City|
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|
|Atletico Tucuman 0 Gremio 2: Libertadores holders draw first blood in QFs|
|Thomas plays down wrist worry|
|Rakitic wants more from Barcelona hat-trick hero Messi|