While Croats are in the semi-finals on the back of two knockout victories over Denmark and Russian Federation via penalty shootouts, England got past Colombia and Sweden in the last two elimination matches.
But Croatia, having won on penalties against Denmark and Russian Federation in the last two rounds, saw the game out, dousing the World Cup dream of Gareth Southgate's team that had gone from the improbable to the possible over the last month in Russian Federation.
England came to a standstill as the 7pm kick-off approached, with roads deserted and shopping centres abandoned as fans dashed home to catch the historic game.
Mandzukic is Croatia's chief threat in front of goal and has operated both as a lone striker and as one of a pair, with Andrej Kramaric, in this tournament. Less than five minutes were on the clock when Kieran Trippier curled a delicious free-kick past the helpless Danijel Subasic.
Dele Alli, who has struggled with a thigh problem this tournament, was taken off 15 minutes before the end against Sweden and England's extra freshness could be a factor this evening.
Gareth Southgate's team dominated the first half, and they had Croatia on the ropes for lengthy periods after Trippier's fifth-minute free kick had given England the lead.
Ivan Perisic tied the score in the 68th minute with his fourth goal of the tournament.
Croatia will be especially wary not to give Trippier too much leeway to fire in unsafe crosses from the right flank.
Kyle Walker misjudged the situation after a cross and allowed Perisic to steal in and poke the ball home.
And they almost went ahead with their next attack - Perisic slamming against the right-hand post before Ante Rebic put the rebound into Jordan Pickford's hands.
Mandzukic scored after Walker stuck out a leg to block Josip Pivaric's cross. In the injury time before the half, Mario Mandžukić should've had one, but Pickford managed to kick it clear and the teams headed into the second half of extra time neck-and-neck.
Mandzukic was mobbed by teammates, who jumped on him in the corner and trapped photographers under them in the crush.
They were looking to the inspirational Luke Modric to control the game, but instead it was he who gave away the early free-kick from which Trippier put England ahead.
England could have scored a second when Jesse Lingard received the ball in space on the edge of the box in the 35th but shot wide.
Croatia have an experienced squad and will go into the match with the belief of going the distance.