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Croatia 0-0 England: Three Lions earn tough draw in behind closed doors clash

Daniel Orme in Editorial, General Soccer News 12 Oct 2018

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England earned their first point of the UEFA Nations League on Friday evening as they drew 0-0 with Croatia in an eerily empty Stadion HNK Rijeka.

Due to a UEFA sanction, the game was played in an empty stadium and the atmosphere did not help either side as the game fell flat in the opening period. The match awakened somewhat in the second-half but neither side were able to open the scoring with Marcus Rashford probably spurning the best chances to earn maximum points.

Eerie atmosphere in Rijeka

Croatia looked the most comfortable on the ball in the opening stages but the first chance of the game in the silent stadium was created by Ben Chilwell, who was making his first international start. He found space down the right flank and produced a teasing low cross towards Raheem Sterling but the Manchester City forward just failed to get on the end of it.

Jordan Pickford was forced into an excellent save during the first-half as Ante Rebic dummied Ivan Perisic’s cross and the ball found its way to the unmarked Andrej Kramaric. The Hoffenheim forward shot first time but the England goalkeeper managed to get across well.

Dier unlucky not to score

Southgate’s men almost opened the scoring in the closing minutes of the first period as Eric Dier glanced a corner goalwards only for the ball to bounce back off of the post.

The second-half started at a much livelier tempo than the first. Perisic had another opportunity to impact the scoreline as he had an effort from the edge of the area after the break but Pickford parried confidently.

The Inter Milan winger was also key defensively as England struck the woodwork. From a free-kick, Harry Kane leapt highest and headed the ball onto the crossbar. The rebound found its way to a Three Lions body but Perisic managed to head the ball off of the line.

Rashford spurns guilt edged chance

Marcus Rashford then had two excellent opportunities to open the scoring. He was at first picked out by an excellent cross from Kyle Walker. The Manchester United man had all the time in the world to find the net but timidly stroked the ball into the arms of Dominik Livakovic.

The youngster was then released into the Croatia penalty area but again he could not beat the goalkeeper as he aimed for the far corner.

Opportunity to win for both sides

The chances continued to come for both sides during the second period. Rebic managed to manufacture space on the edge of the area and only just curled a spectacular effort wide of goal.

Kane did manage to find the net with a clinical finish from inside the area but he was adjudged to be offside and the goal was ruled out.

18-year-old Jadon Sancho then enjoyed a huge moment in his fledgling career as he came on for his senior England debut. He was not able to effect proceedings though as the game ended all square.

Final Thoughts

Supporters must almost have felt that they were fortunate to give this game a miss. The first-half was a dire affair with both sides simply not showing any attacking intent. The game did liven up and it was England who created the better chances. Gareth Southgate may feel slightly disappointed that they were not able to hit the front.

The Three Lions next do battle with Spain on Monday, whilst Croatia do battle with Jordan in an international friendly.

Match Report

Croatia: Livakovic (7), Pivaric (6), Vida (6), Lovren (6), Jedvaj (6); Rakitic (7), Kovacic (6) (Badelj (6), 73′); Perisic (7) (Pjaca (5), 68′), Modric (7), Kramaric (6); Rebic (6) (Livaja (N/A), 80′).

England: Pickford (7); Chilwell (7), Maguire (6), Stones (6), Walker (7); Barkley (6), Dier (6), Henderson (7); Rashford (6), Kane (5), Sterling (5) (Sancho (N/A), 78′).

Goals: N/A

Referee: Felix Brych

Yellow Cards: Henderson (6′), Kovacic (25′), Stones (52′), Jedvaj (59′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is a football journalism graduate from the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately six years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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