ZAGREB – Some 100,000 people packed into Zagreb’s Ban Jelacic square Wednesday night to watch Croatia battle England in the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup.
Rain fell and the spirit of the crowd gathered in front of the giant television screen was likewise gloomy after England jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 5th minute of the match in Moscow.
As the minutes passed, however, supporters began chanting, “We want a goal,” and burst into cheers every time the camera focused on Croatia captain Luka Modric.
The fans erupted when Ivan Perisic equalized for Croatia in the 68th minute, but euphoria didn’t take hold until Mario Mandzukic put the side ahead 2-1 in the second extra time period.
Similar scenes unfolded in town squares across the Balkan nation of roughly 4 million people, the second-smallest country to reach the World Cup final.
Croatia will face France, the 1998 World Cup winner, in Sunday’s final.