Southgate was reluctant to draw any positives from England's World Cup experience so soon after the crushing loss to Croatia, but said there obviously were many high points and pointed to a bright future for his young, talented squad after their success in Russian Federation. But Croatia came alive in the second half, first scoring on a header in the 68th minute by Ivan Perisic to level the match and take the game to extra time.
Some England fans emerged from the Luzhniki Stadium in tears and being hugged by others while jubilant Croatian supporters celebrated around them.
Numerous dedicated fans are heading to Moscow exclusively to watch the match, and will be headed back on flights tomorrow.
Wednesday night's game was England's first semi-final in 28 years, after the 1990 squad were defeated by West Germany in a penalty shoot-out.
Signs at Heathrow's Terminal 5 showed excited customers where to "ChecK-ane" (see what they did there?!) for the 8.45am flight, before they were offered free Marks and Spencer waistcoats so that they could channel their inner Gareth Southgate. We're taking it step by step.
"We were like lions out there tonight and we will be the same in the final", he said. We did not underestimate them. We're going to celebrate, to rest and then we will prepare for France.
"I just feel so disappointed".
"They played their best, it obviously wasn't to be".
However - we think Martinez will rotate a few players, with the likes of Yannick Carrasco and Dedryck Boyata likely to come in.
Nick Ferrari hugs a Croatian following the World Cup defeat. "The only time it happened in Belgian football was in 1986, when we finished fourth".