England's World Cup exit to Croatia is the most watched event since the London 2012 Olympics

Millions of people tuned in to witness more England heartbreak.

England’s dramatic World Cup exit proved gripping viewing as figures released today show 26.5million people tuned in for the defeat to Croatia.

That makes the 2-1 loss the most watched five minutes of British television since the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 2012.

Viewing figures on ITV peaked between 9.30pm and 9.35pm on Wednesday night as the Three Lions tried to rescue the game.

The Olympics in London still ranks as the second most viewed event of the last 25 years, behind Princess Diana’s funeral on 32million.

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The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 is ranked third on the list with 26.6million ahead of the England v Croatia in fourth.

The average audience for the semi-final was 24.3 million and that number is only a fraction of the overall total as it doesn’t account for people watching in pubs and fan parks.

ITV also revealed a record-high 4.3million requests had been made to watch the match online via the ITV Hub.

ITV broadcast the semi-final on Wednesday.

Around 80 per cent of everyone watching TV in the UK during the match was tuned into ITV to witness the drama unfold.

England’s penalty shootout with Colombian in the last 16 was the previous highest audience for the 2018 World Cup as 23.6 million laid that ghost to rest in Russia.