Empty stands a sad sight for Croatia’s Dalic in England stalemate

Brenda Watkins
October 14, 2018

The game is a rematch of this summer's World Cup semifinal, a game the Croatians won by a score of 2-1 to advance to the World Cup final.

"Football is played for the fans".

Chants could be heard from the set of England fans who had perched themselves on a nearby hill that was high enough to see the game.

And former England worldwide Pearce believes Henderson proved himself the better of the two after the World Cup.

Expanding on the thinking behind the change, Southgate added: "I don't think you should be rigid and say that's what we're doing and stick with it regardless". "Harry, we know, is a player who connects the game really well, and who can receive under pressure", said the manager. We dictated the flow for a long period and the second-half performance was excellent, pushing right to the end.

A goalless draw was fitting of an empty experience with supporters shut out of the 8,000 capacity HNK Rijeka stadium, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

The winger looked lively and brought some excitement to the stalemate that leaves England six points behind Spain in their Nations League group. They had one from a cut-back. "He is not here and we need to respect his decision".

Croatia should have opened the scoring 37 minutes in through the first half's only real opportunity, only for Andrej Kramaric to hit the ball into the ground when picked out by Perisic's left-sided cross, allowing Jordan Pickford to make the save.

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Kane headed a Henderson free kick against the bar before Manchester United forward Rashford served up a pair of astonishing misses in the space of two minutes.

The only chance in the first half fell to Dier, who glanced his header against the far post after a Jordan Henderson corner.

Dalic complained after a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain that his side were still worn out from their summer exertions and they faded again as England took control at the start of the second period. Both players' first thought seemed to pass backwards or sideways, leaving the creative burden on Ross Barkley exclusively.

England coped well with the surroundings and had the better chances - Eric Dier and Harry Kane heading against the woodwork either side of the interval, and Marcus Rashford producing two bad misses with only Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to beat.

"On another day we would have won 3-0", said Barkley.

"For me, the most important thing is we build for two years' time".

After a stunning start to the season with Borussia Dortmund, the 18-year-old was handed a call-up to Gareth Southgate's squad.

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