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.
|Usyk outclasses Gassiev to make cruiserweight history|
|Pella books Cecchinato meeting in Umag, Ramanathan´s Newport run continues|
|Kisner expects nothing but exchange of ´horror stories´ with housemate Spieth|
|Inter new boy Lautaro Martinez denies Zenit in six-goal thriller|
|McIlroy eyeing early gains to apply scoreboard pressure|
|The Open 2018 diary: Spieth´s close shave|
|Salah is fully recovered and full of joy – Klopp|
|De Laurentiis accuses Sarri of trying to sign whole Napoli team|
|Lewis Hamilton explains German GP woes|
|O´Driscoll hails ´Test match animal´ Warburton|
|Spieth relishing prospect of Tiger tussle at Carnoustie|
|Sanches pushing for Bayern second chance - Kovac|
|Put on the Sunday red and enjoy Tiger´s ride regardless of Carnoustie outcome|
|Flawless Spieth takes share of Open lead after Tiger winds back the years|
|PSG´s Tuchel to be patient with World Cup stars Neymar, Mbappe & Cavani|
|Sanchez joins United tour in LA after visa issues|
|Catalans crush Salford to confirm Super League safety|
|Hamilton not giving up despite Hockenheim heartbreak|
|Spieth surges into Open Championship lead|
|Dumoulin is our biggest threat – Froome|
|Sane: Low gave me good reasons for World Cup snub|
|Tiger Woods in the hunt and loving it at The Open|
|Vettel delighted with German GP pole performance|
|Deschamps lauds intelligence of ´extraordinary´ Mbappe|
|Thomas maintains advantage as Fraile powers to stage victory|
|Woods sets clubhouse target, Kisner edges back in front|
|Bayern Munich 3 Paris Saint-Germain 1: Sanches strikes in ICC clash|
|Dost re-signs with Sporting CP after initially rescinding contract|
|Impressive Lions see off Jaguares to seal Waratahs semi|
|I´ll show Mourinho I´m ready, says United´s Pereira|
|Fognini sets up final clash with Gasquet|
|Injury ends Bouchard´s Swiss hopes, Sevastova through in Bucharest|
|That didn´t Work-u...race leader pulls up short of 3000metre finish|
|Prowling Tiger Woods on Open charge as Spieth joins leaders|
|Federer will struggle away from Wimbledon - Henman|
|Hamilton expecting tough Sunday at Hockenheim|
|Spalletti expects Icardi, Perisic to stay at Inter|
|Vettel smashes lap record to take Hockenheim pole after Hamilton woe|
|Warner targets Australia recall after Darwin debut|
|Rose: Open Sunday will be ´interesting´ after 64|
|Hamilton out of German GP qualifying as Mercedes falters|
|Pogba, Mbappe, Griezmann? Deschamps mulls Ballon d´Or contenders|
|Farah concussed on 250th Wests game as Tigers stun Souths|
|Waratahs overrun Highlanders in stunning second-half fightback|
|Rose scores record-equalling 64 to jump into Open contention|
|Moreno hails Liverpool´s recruitment drive as ´top, top players´ arrive|
|AC Milan elect new board with CEO Fassone out|
|Sri Lanka grind sorry South Africa into the Colombo dirt|
|Mina ready to reject offers for Barcelona stay|
|Guardiola tells Sane to use World Cup snub as motivation|
|Golovin´s ex-team-mate Chepchugov drops hint over Chelsea move|
|Reed & Rose make early charges on Carnoustie ´moving day´|
|Sancho ´had a point to prove´ in Dortmund´s win over Manchester City|
|Li hits back at AC Milan owners Elliott as bitter split continues|
|Crusaders cruise past Sharks to book Hurricanes semi-final|
|Rabiot would be a great signing for Barcelona – Xavi|
|JaVale McGee: Lakers are going to be ´one of the most fun teams ever´|
|Dolphins owner Ross: National anthem policy a ´placeholder´|
|Boga leaves Chelsea for Sassuolo|
|Schurrle in talks to leave Borussia Dortmund|
|Guardiola happy with Mahrez and Man City despite loss|
|Dodgers top Brewers in Machado´s debut|
|Raptors GM apologises to DeRozan after Spurs trade|
|Manchester City 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Gotze spoils Mahrez´s debut in ICC opener|
|United fans keeping De Gea at Old Trafford – Herrera|
|Keita: I turned down Barca and Bayern for Liverpool|
|Merritt stays ahead as rain halts Barbasol Championship|
|Roma had to sell Alisson to Liverpool, says Totti|
|Donald Trump: Kneeling players should be suspended without pay|
|Cardinals´ Carpenter makes history|