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AFP
October 14, 2018

England, Croatia play a draw

Sports

AFP
October 14, 2018

RIJEKA, Croatia: England’s attempt to exact World Cup revenge on Croatia fell short in a 0-0 Nations League draw in front of an empty football stadium in Rijeka on Friday as the visitors were left to rue Marcus Rashford’s profligacy in front of goal.

Rashford twice fired too close to Dominik Livakovic with just the Croatia goalkeeper to beat, while Eric Dier and Harry Kane also hit the woodwork for the Three Lions as Croatia toiled.

However, a point does little for either side’s hopes of usurping Spain, who beat both last month, to progress to the first ever Nations League semi-finals next summer.

Croatia were completing a UEFA sanction to play two games behind closed doors after a swastika symbol

was carved into the pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in June 2015.

A small band of England fans perched on a hill overlooking the deserted 8,000 capacity stadium in Rijeka tried to offer their encouragement.

However, the lack of atmosphere in the stands was reflected on the pitch with neither side understandably hitting the heights they did at the World Cup when Croatia beat England 2-1 in the semi-finals.

England boss Gareth Southgate had named a vastly inexperienced squad, including six uncapped players.

None of the new faces were named in the starting line-up, but Leicester’s Ben Chilwell was handed his first start and nearly created the opener with a fine low cross that Josip Pivaric did well to prevent Raheem Sterling turning home.

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