Harry Kane scored an 85th-minute winner as England fought back from a goal down to beat Croatia 2-1 and secure a place in the Nations League Finals.
A repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final seemed set to end in heartbreak for England again when they fell behind to Andrej Kramaric's deflected strike in the 57th minute at Wembley.
However, substitute Jesse Lingard poked home a close-range equaliser with 12 minutes remaining, setting up a frantic finish as qualification was suddenly up for grabs again.
Captain Kane completed the turnaround, the striker overcoming a mixed performance in front of goal by poking home Ben Chilwell's cross from England's left flank.
Like his team, the striker had appeared set to endure a frustrating outing until his telling contribution; he had scuffed over the top from a corner as well as seeing Tin Jedvaj and goalkeeper Lovre Kaliinic block on-target attempts in a first half the hosts dominated.
Raheem Sterling twice wasted one-on-one opportunities too, and the misses appeared set to be costly when Croatia struck on the counter.
Kramaric appeared to have wasted the shooting opportunity when he continuously dummied onto the opposite foot, only to eventually pull the trigger with a right-footed effort that found the net via a crucial touch off Eric Dier.
However, England took the direct route to finding an equaliser, Joe Gomez's long throw flicked on by John Stones and while Kane's stabbed attempt was partially blocked, Lingard was in the right place to provide the finishing touch from under a yard.
The Manchester United winger popped up on his own goal line to make a crucial intervention in defence, hacking clear Domagoj Vida's header from a corner, before Kane struck, his finish on the stretch relegating Croatia from the top tier and gaining a modicum of revenge for the 2-1 loss in Moscow in July.
What does it mean? National pride comes through
The Nations League may not be loved by all just yet, but the possible outcomes in League A Group 4 of UEFA's competition made for a far greater spectacle than any high-profile friendly.
Croatia were jaded after their efforts in a 3-2 home win over Spain on Thursday yet fought valiantly throughout, while the must-win nature of the fixture inspired England to produce a memorable fightback in front of their fans. It may not be a major trophy, but it clearly matted to Gareth Southgate and his players.
O Captain! My Captain!
Kane had not scored in 747 minutes of international football before his stabbed finish sent England through to the last four. He was not alone in looking out of sorts, Sterling's finishing will once again come under the spotlight, but showed perseverance pays off by popping up at the end to score with his fifth shot of the match.
Sterling lacked value in front of goal
A key cog under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Sterling's England career has failed to run smoothly, albeit not always due to his on-field performances. A brace in the 3-2 win over Spain last month ended a three-year international goal drought, but the forward misfired when it mattered against Croatia. Would he have tucked those opportunities away at club level?
Key Opta Facts:
- England have won four of their last five matches (D1) after winning just one of their six before that (D1 L4).
- This was Croatia's first defeat against England since September 2009, when they lost 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
- Kramaric scored with Croatia’s first shot on target of the match.
- Lingard has scored as many goals in his last two England matches (2) as he managed in his first 20 caps for the Three Lions.
- England have won 15 of their last 16 competitive matches at Wembley (L1).
Sunday's game was the end of not just the fixtures in Group 4 but also the action for both Croatia and England in 2018. The next international break in Europe is scheduled for March. England's appearance in the Nations League Finals, meanwhile, will take place in June of next year.
|It is time for Neymar to decide, says Belletti|
|Norwich sign Switzerland striker Drmic|
|Dzumhur makes successful start to Antalya defence|
|Robertson: I did not tell Tierney to quit Celtic|
|Wozniacki right at home in Eastbourne, Pliskova also makes progress|
|Ajax sign Netherlands forward Promes|
|Tunisia 1 Angola 1: Eagles of Carthage denied winning AFCON start|
|Ghana v Benin: Black Stars present united front before opener|
|Neymar wishes Messi happy birthday as Barcelona return rumours grow|
|England v Australia: Morgan´s men look for response after Sri Lanka setback|
|Perfect preparation key to Shakib heroics|
|Gerrard aware of Derby speculation amid Lampard´s expected Chelsea switch|
|Stupendous Shakib torments Afghanistan|
|Ivory Coast 1 South Africa 0: Kodjia secures precious opening win|
|Boring French Grand Prix should accelerate rule changes|
|Smith, Warner have extra motivation after World Cup heckles – Finch|
|Shearer slams Newcastle ´shambles´ as players & fans hail Benitez|
|Windies replace injured Russell with Ambris|
|CAF chief Johansen calls for investigation into Cameroon after Women´s World Cup controversy|
|Cameroon v Guinea-Bissau: Seedorf´s Indomitable Lions ´serene´ despite bonus row|
|Morgan has no issue with Smith and Warner boos|
|Barty pulls out of Eastbourne with arm injury|
|Barcelona would win more if Messi was a team player - Van Gaal|
|San Siro to be ´knocked down´, claims AC Milan president|
|Missing Origin decider would be ´devastating´ for injured Cleary|
|US Open singles ´not the target´ for Murray after Queen´s triumph|
|Newcastle confirm Benitez departure|
|England´s Roy ruled out of Australia clash|
|First big hoax of the season - Napoli shut down Allan & Insigne sale rumours|
|Van Dijk excited for Liverpool´s future|
|Baghdatis to bow out after Wimbledon|
|Coutinho, Arthur want Neymar back at Barcelona|
|Folau a victim of ´continuing campaign of discrimination´ after GoFundMe page shut down|
|Messi at 32: The superstar´s 10 finest goals for club and country|
|Messi at 32: The Barcelona star´s achievements through the years|
|Now begins another Copa – Messi urges Argentina to kick on after progressing|
|Uncertain Koulibaly suspects he will stay at Napoli|
|Lonzo Ball: Trade from Lakers to Pelicans ´good news´|
|Marquinhos accepts PSG may find it difficult to keep Neymar|
|This week at the Cricket World Cup: Defending champions Australia face tough tests|
|Rumour Has It: Neymar tells Barca players he´s coming|
|Milan need to be playing Champions League – Kalac excited by Giampaolo|
|Marlins complete sweep to hand Phillies seventh consecutive loss|
|Copa America and Messi clash a great experience for Qatar, says Sanchez|
|Martinique 2 Mexico 3: Martino´s men avoid shock against minnows|
|Chris Paul addresses trade rumours, says he´s ´happy´ with Rockets|
|Folau´s GoFundMe campaign shut down for breaching terms|
|We made history – Ronaldo meets Jordan|
|Truex picks up another win at Toyota/Save Mart 350|
|Columbus Crew 0 Sporting Kansas City 1: Gutierrez header enough for visitors|
|Raptors have strong chance to re-sign Kawhi Leonard – Green|
|Alonso sets Mets´ rookie homer record 78 games into season|
|Yankees continue home-run streak, set franchise record|
|Green wins Women´s PGA Championship for maiden major title|
|Reavie ends 11-year PGA Tour win drought at Travelers Championship|
|Argentina seem to be at war – Scaloni|
|USA, China claim first World Cup titles ahead of FIBA 3x3 Olympic debut|
|Euro U21s Review: Germany through, Denmark and Austria crash out|
|Cameroon boss slams ´miscarriage of justice´|
|England and France advance as Neville fumes at Cameroon|
|Ferrari failed in bid to close on Mercedes - Vettel|
|Mallorca 3 Deportivo La Coruna 0 (3-2 agg): Extraordinary comeback seals LaLiga return|
|Sonego shocks Sousa, Troicki labours through at Antalya Open|
|Konta off to a winning start at Eastbourne|
|Algeria 2 Kenya 0: Mahrez scores in comfortable success|
|Qatar 0 Argentina 2: Aguero on target as Scaloni´s men progress|
|Colombia 1 Paraguay 0: Cuellar strike seals Copa America win for fringe stars|
|England boss Neville praises Duggan following alleged spitting incident|
|Ricciardo falls to 11th with two French GP penalties|
|I felt no pain - Murray delighted after comeback success|