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991 vs. Croatia
  Friday, 12 October 2018
League of Nations League A Group four match

Croatia 0 England 0 [0-0]

Stadion HNK Rijeka, Rujevica, Rijeka, Primorje-Gorski Kotar
Kick-off (CEST): 8.45pm 7.45pm BST.
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors

Croatia kicked-off 94 minutes 45:00 & 49:03. Match Summary
Croatia Squad
England Squad

Mateo Kovačić
25 24:22
Dejan Lovren 45 44:26

Tin Jedvaj 59 58:11
Jordan Henderson 6 5:49

John Stones 52 51:40

Raheem Sterling 72 71:15

Commentator: Martin Tyler with Alan Smith

Match Summary

Officials from Germany





    Cr oat ia    
Referee (sky blue) - Dr. Felix Brych
43 (3 August 1975), München, FIFA-listed 2007.

Assistant Referees - Mark Borsch
, 41 (16 March 1977), Monchengladbach, and Stefan Jupp, 40 (9 September 1978)

Fourth official - Dominik Schaal

Additional Assistant Referees - Marco Fritz
, 41 (3 October 1977) and Harm Osmers
9 Goal Attempts 5
3 Attempts on Target 2
0 Hit Bar/Post 2
2 Corner Kicks Won 4
  Offside Calls Against  
15 Fouls Conceded 14
46% Possession 54%

Croatia Team



FIFA (20 Sept 2018) 4th
EFO ranking Group One
ELO rating 9th
Colours: Made by Nike - Black and navy chequered shirts (plain black reverse) with navy collar/cuffs, black shorts, red socks with black calf hoop.
Capt: Luka Modrić Manager: Zlatko Dalić, 51 (26 October 1966), appointed 7 October 2017
seventeenth match, W 8 - D 4 - L 4 - F 24 - A 22.
Croatia Lineup
1 Livaković, Dominik 23 9 January 1995 G Gnk Dinamo Zagreb 2 0 GA
22 Pivarić, Josip 29 30 January 1989 LB FC Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine 25 0
21 Vida, Domagoj 29 29 April 1989 CD Beşiktaş JK, Turkey 68 3
4 Perišić, Ivan, off 68th min 29 2 February 1989 RAM FC Internazionale Milano SpA, Italy 76 21
16 Jedvaj, Tin 22 28 November 1995 RB Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Germany 15 0
Jedvaj cautioned in the 59th min. for a foul, after a studs-up challenge as Dier reached the ball before him and he catches his ankle.
6 Lovren, Dejan 29 5 July 1989
Bosnia & Herzegovina
CD Liverpool FC, England 47 2
Lovren cautioned in the 45th min. for a foul, after he challenged late and brought down Raheem Sterling as he sped down the touchline.
7 Rakitić, Ivan 30 10 March 1988
Möhlin, Switzerland
LDM FC Barcelona, Spain 101 15
8 Kovačić, Mateo, off 73rd min. 24 6 May 1994
Linz, Austria
RDM Chelsea FC, England, on loan from Real Madrid CF, Spain 49 1
Kovačić cautioned in the 25th min. for a foul, after his tackle from behind on Marcus Rashford brought him down.
9 Kramarić, Andrej 27 19 June 1991 CF TSV 1899 Hoffenheim eV, Germany 39 10
10 Modrić, Luka 33 9 September 1985 AM Real Madrid CF, Spain 116 14
18 Rebić, Ante, off 80th min. 25 21 September 1993 LAM Eintracht Frankfurt eV, Germany 23 2
Croatia Substitutes
scoreline: Croatia 0 England 0
20 Pjaca, Marko, on 68th min. (67:54) for Perišić 23 6 May 1995 RF ACF Fiorentina SpA, Italy, on loan from Juventus FC SpA, Italy 22 1
19 Badelj, Milan, on 73rd min. (72:46) for Kovačić 29 25 February 1989 M SS Lazio SpA, Italy 43 2
13 Livaja, Marko, on 80th min (79:45) for Rebić 25 26 August 1993 LF Athlitikí Énosis Konstantinoupóleos, Greece 3 0
result: Croatia 0 England 0

unused substitutes:

2-Karlo Bartolec, 3-Antonuo Millić, 5-Matej Mitrović, 11-Marko Rog, 12-Simon Sluga, 14-Filip Bradarić, 15-Mario Pašalić, 17-Ivan Santini.
4-5(2-3)-1 Livaković -
Jedvaj, Lovren, Vida, Pivarić -
(Livaja), Rakitić, Modrić, Kovačić (Badelj), Perišić (Pjaca) -

Averages (Starting XI):

Age 27.3 Appearances/Goals 51.2 6.3

England Team



FIFA (20 Sept 2018) 6th
EFO ranking Group One
ELO rating 12th to 10th
Colours: The Nike 2018 home shirt - White v-necked jerseys with red trim on collar, white shorts, white socks.
Capt: Harry Kane, thirteenth captaincy Manager: Gareth Southgate, 48 (3 September 1970), appointed caretaker manager on 24 September 2016, appointed as permanent manager on 30 November 2016.
28th match, W 14 - D 8 - L 6 - F 41 - A 21.
England Lineup
1 Pickford, Jordan L. 24 7 March 1994 G Everton FC 12 11 GA
2 Walker, Kyle A. 28 28 May 1990 RB Manchester City FC 42 0
3 Chilwell, Benjamin J. 21 21 December 1996 LB Leicester City FC 2 0
4 Dier, Eric J.E. 24 15 January 1994 CM Tottenham Hotspur FC 35 3
5 Stones, John 24 28 May 1994 CD Manchester City FC 36 2
Stones cautioned in the 52nd min. for a foul, after a late challenge on Rakitić after his team failed to win a penalty. SUSPENDED
6 Maguire, J. Harry 25 5 March 1993 CD Leicester City FC 15 1
7 Barkley, Ross 24 5 December 1993 LM Chelsea FC 23 2
8 Henderson, Jordan B. 28 17 June 1990 RM Liverpool FC 47 0
Henderson cautioned in the 6th min. for a foul, after he pulled back on Rakitić as he ran through the centre-circle. SUSPENDED
9 Kane, Harry E. 25 28 July 1993 CF Tottenham Hotspur FC 33 19
10 Sterling, Raheem S., off 78th min 23 8 December 1994 RF Manchester City FC 45 2
Sterling cautioned in the 72nd min. for Unsporting Behaviour, after he kicked the ball away after he was adjudged to have brought down Kovačić.
11 Rashford, Marcus 20 31 October 1997 LF Manchester United FC 28 5
England Substitutes
scoreline: Croatia 0 England 0
22 Sancho, Jadon M. on 78th min. (77:15) for Sterling 18
201 days
25 March 2000 RF BSV Borussia 09 eV Dortmund, Germany 1 0
result: Croatia 0 England 0

unused substitutes:

12-Kieran Trippier, 13-Jack Butland, 14-Trent Alexander-Arnold, 15-Lewis Dunk, 16-Joe Gomez, 17-Harry Winks, 18-Nathaniel Chalobah, 19-Mason Mount, 20-James Maddison, 21-Marcus Bettinelli.

team notes:

Jadon Sancho becomes the first player to be born in the 21st century to represent England. He becomes the tenth youngest ever player, and the 63rd teenager to play for England. He is, however, only the second youngest, after Duncan Edwards in 1955, to win his first appearance in a competitive fixture.
This was the 400th clean sheet that England have kept, and also the fiftieth qualification match drawn.
4-4-2 Pickford -
Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell -
Henderson, Dier, Barkley -
(Sancho), Kane, Rashford

Averages (Starting XI):

Age 24.2 Appearances/Goals 28.9 3.1


    Match Report by Mike Payne

I have reported on all sorts of weird and wonderful England internationals for this website, but none have been quite like this latest match in the Nations League.  The stadium ban enforced on Croatia meant that there were no fans, from either side, watching this vital match.  I say no fans, but there was a pocket of English diehards spotted on a hillside overlooking the ground, and all credit to them for getting something for their money.

As for the game, well, unfortunately it has to go down as one of the worst games I have reported on too.  The first-half was totally forgettable.  The awkward pitch, and the lack of any atmosphere, saw the players going through the motions as though it was a training session.  Neither side wanted to lose the game and it showed in the tentative way both teams approached the match.  Neither goalkeeper saw any action in the early stages and it took a full 12 minutes before there was a semblance of a chance.  Ben Chilwell, making his second appearance, broke away down the left and put in a fine cross.  Croatian defender Josip Pevaric had to stretch to prevent Raheem Sterling having a simple tap-in.

It took Croatia 20 minutes before they managed a worthwhile attack.  Good work by Domagoj Vida and Ante Rebic saw the latter put in a cross to the near post, but England managed to clear, although Kyle Walker then gave away a corner from which Ivan Perisic had a shot blocked.

An early booking for Jordan Henderson ruled him out of the next match and Mateo Kovacic joined him in the referee’s notebook shortly afterwards.  The bobbly pitch made life very difficult for everyone, but it was not really an excuse for the lack of urgency.  Just after the half-hour mark England cleared a Luka Modric free-kick and Harry Maguire did well in clearing two dangerous crosses with his head.  In the 37th minute Jordan Pickford had to make his first save as Andrej Kramaric shot at goal.  The forward scuffed his shot somewhat and in the end it was an easy save for the goalkeeper.

With just two minutes left of a dire first-half, England so nearly grabbed the lead.  A corner to the near post from Henderson was met, appropriately, by Eric Dier, and his glancing header bobbled across goal before hitting the far post and bouncing away, even though three advancing England players could and should have made a vital touch had they been just a little more alert.  And that was it for the first 45 minutes, in this, the most weird of situations for a major international.  Surely the second-half would be a little better?

After the restart there was definitely a bit more urgency from England and two minutes in Marcus Rashford cut inside before shooting wide.  Croatia also went close as the pace of the game stepped up.  Modric, always the orchestrator, set up Perisic but Pickford was down well to save.  A minute later and England saw the first glimpse of Harry Kane as Henderson’s free-kick was met by the talismatic striker with a firm header.  On another day it would have been a goal, but this time the ball thudded against the crossbar before being cleared.

John Stones was then booked, and he too will miss the next game away to Spain, and that added to the frustrations of the night’s efforts.  At least in the eight minutes elapsed after the break so far the ‘fans on the hill’ had seen more action than in the previous 45 minutes.

On 55 minutes England created another golden chance.  Walker’s fine cross found Rashford clear with just the goalkeeper to beat.  But the young Manchester United star completely fluffed his shot, giving Dominik Livakovic an easy save.  That was a bad miss from the best chance of the night so far.  At least England were looking a lot more positive as they sensed that the game was there for the taking.  Good work by Sterling and Kane gave Rashford another chance but again the striker failed to score.

For a short while play swung from end to end, with first Chilwell’s free-kick being cleared and then after Croatia pressured Chilwell and Pickford, England managed to scramble the ball clear.  The match quietened down after that and all eyes, such as there were, looked at the England bench for possible substitutions.  Meanwhile, Kramaric went close and then on 70 minutes  Rebic fired in a fine curling shot that only just cleared the far post.

After a period of Croatian pressure England broke away with Rashford feeding the ball through to Sterling only for the Manchester City winger to be pulled up for offside.  Sterling was booked after putting the ball into the net after the whistle blew.  He couldn’t possibly have said he didn’t hear the whistle!

Modric forced a save out of Pickford and Kane then shot into the net but again the striker was caught offside.  On 80 minutes, Gareth Southgate finally made a change.  On came the young protégé Jadon Sancho, and the Borussia Dortmund player was soon into the action making a couple of sparkling runs down the right.  At the other end Kramaric, who had a poor game, missed a fine chance to win the points, and then Sancho’s cross almost finds Ross Barkley, only for the ball to bounce unkindly for the Chelsea man.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock but overall it was a severe case of a stalemate with both teams cancelling each other out.  England, and in particular Rashford, had the best chances, but the final finish was missing each time.  England missed a good chance here of snatching some sort of revenge for their World Cup defeat by Croatia back in the summer, but they do live to fight another day.

It really was a strange and eerie atmosphere, and despite what they said afterwards, all the players were affected by this weird scenario.  Let’s hope we don’t see too many other England games played behind closed doors.

Source Notes

BBC Sport
Mike Payne - football historian and contributor