LAST_UPDATESun, 15 Jul 2018 9pm

[Video] Gareth Southgate Given Incredible Reception By England Fans At 1am In Stadium

THIS is the incredible moment Gareth Southgate walked back on to the Luzhniki Stadium pitch at 1am after England were dumped out the World Cup - to be given a reception fit for a king.

England's bid to reach the World Cup final ended in heartbreak and failure on a night of unbearable tension in Moscow.

But that didn't stop passionate Three Lions fans staying in the stadium for two hours after the game - long after the Croatian fans had left - to honour their heroes.

England players slumped to the ground at the final whistle after falling to a crushing 2-1 defeat in extra-time.

But this is a new England, an England side that has transformed the spirits of a nation.

Chants of 'we're proud of you' were blasted out as the players lined up in an almost transfixed glaze at the thousands of England fans filling the stadium.

Some had paid more than £1,000 a ticket as England came so close to their first final in the competition since they won it in 1966.

After 20 minutes of emotion on the pitch - where players barely said a word to each other while Southgate comforted each and every one - the England stars returned to the dressing room to rousing applause.

But barely a supporter left. Slowly, one-by-one, the players re-emerged where they met with friends and families watching from the stands.

Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all returned the applause from the travelling faithful before Jordan Pickford jumped in the crowd to give one fan his gloves.

The biggest reception of all was reserved for Southgate, however.

A 20-minute non-stop rendition of 'Southgate you're the one' - to the tune of Atomic Kitten's Whole Again - climaxed when the man himself walked out alone from the tunnel.

Visibly emotional, Southgate bowed to fans, returning their applause and waving as he soaked it all in.

He had earlier seen his side get off to the perfect start on their big night with a goal after only five minutes.

Croatia captain Luka Modric conceded a free kick with a clumsy challenge on Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier superbly curled home the set piece for his first international goal.

England could then have had the semi won by half-time, but Harry Maguire, Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard all failed to finish clear chances.

And England were made to pay when Croatia, after dominating possession in the second half, equalised in the 68th minute through Ivan Perisic - the winger Jose Mourinho has tried to sign for Manchester United.

Mario Mandzukic then scored the winner in the second period of extra-time to break English hearts.

A deflated Kane said: "It's tough. We’re gutted, you know. We worked so hard.

"It hurts and it’ll hurt for a while, but we can hold our heads up high.

"It was a fantastic journey, we got further than anyone thought we could, we’ve just got to learn from it.

"We created some good chances being 1-0 up, there are lots of ifs and buts and it is hard in these games, it is small margins and it went their way today. We played well at the start and in extra time but we missed a few chances to kill them off.

"Until they scored in the second half we were always under the cosh. Maybe we dropped too deep at times. There is a lot we could have done better but they played better.

"Obviously it has been great to get to this stage and we know we have done everyone proud but we wanted to win."

Now England have to pick themselves up to face Belgium in the third place play-off against Belgium in St Petersburg on Saturday.

But Kane says when the disappointment eases there are plenty of positives.

He added: "It shows we can be up here, that we can win knockout games, can get to semi-finals and the next step is to go one step further.

"This is a great foundation we have built with the gaffer, we are proud of what we have achieved but we wanted more and are sad we couldn't give our fans a final. The fans were amazing.

"There are a lot of positives to take from this tournament. It's a big stepping stone from two years ago."