England held to goalless draw by Croatia in UEFA Nations League

Friday 12 Oct 2018
Kyle Walker (left) in action in Rijeka

England were held to a goalless draw by World Cup runners-up Croatia in their second UEFA Nations League match.

UEFA had ordered the game to be played behind closed doors and the lack of supporters, and consequently atmosphere, led to a rather underwhelming spectacle.

And here are the key talking points from an eerie evening in Rijeka:

An England first

England have played 988 matches since international football began in 1872 and this was their first one behind closed doors.

Croatia 0-0 England
  • UEFA Nations League
  • League A, Group 4
  • Friday 12 October
  • in Rijeka, Croatia
The decision was made by UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body in relation to Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in June 2015.

It made for a strange night where players’ voices could be heard on TV alongside the chants from a hardy band of England fans who had found their way on to a grassy bank outside the stadium.

Woodwork to Croatia’s rescue

It was a game of few chances but the visitors created the best of them.

Eric Dier glanced a header against the far post just before the break and the rebound fell kindly for Croatia to clear.

His Tottenham club mate Harry Kane followed suit early in the second half when he headed a free-kick against the bar with rookie keeper Dominik Livaković well beaten.

But the clearest opportunities fell to Marcus Rashford. His first chance was created by Kyle Walker’s exquisite cross but the Manchester United youngster mistimed his effort and Livaković gathered with ease.

Rashford was then played into the box by Raheem Sterling and opened his body to shoot, but Livaković got down well to parry the ball away.

Welcome to the fold, Jadon

After excelling for England at youth level and starring for Borussia Dortmund this season, Jadon Sancho was rewarded with his senior team debut against Croatia.

Jadon Sancho made his senior team bow in Rijeka

The exciting 18-year-old replaced Sterling on 78 minutes to become the youngest player to be deployed by Gareth Southgate since his Three Lions tenure began.

Meanwhile, Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell was awarded his full debut.

Duo to miss Spain

Jordan Henderson and John Stones will miss the game against Spain in Seville on Monday after picking up yellow cards – both for fouls on Ivan Rakitic.

Henderson was booked after just six minutes while Stones was cautioned early in the second half.

Southgate will therefore be forced to make at least two changes for England’s third UEFA Nations League encounter.

Sterling was the third England player to receive a yellow card.

All to play for

Spain sit atop the UEFA Nations League A Group 4 table with six points from their opening two matches while England and Croatia have a point each.

Next up for England is a match against the 2010 World Cup winners on Monday before Croatia come to Wembley on Sunday 18 November.


England (4-3-3): 1 Jordan Pickford (Everton); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 5 John Stones (Manchester City), 6 Harry Maguire (Leicester City), 3 Ben Chilwell (Leicester City); 4 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), 7 Ross Barkley (Chelsea), 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool); 11 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), 9 Harry Kane (capt; Tottenham Hotspur), 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Substitutes: 22 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) for Sterling 78.

Substitutes not used: 12 Kieran Trippier Tottenham Hotspur), 13 Jack Butland (Stoke City), 14 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), 15 Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), 16 Joe Gomez (Liverpool), 17 Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur), 18 Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), 19 Mason Mount (Derby County – on loan from Chelsea), 20 James Maddison (Leicester City), 21 Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham).

Bookings: Henderson 6, Stones 52, Sterling 72

Head coach: Gareth Southgate

By FA Staff