Harry Kane backed to end England drought by Gareth Southgate

Rex Christensen
October 14, 2018

If a reminder of Stein's comment was required, it came during England's 0-0 draw in Croatia, that did neither side's chances of progressing in the Nations League much good.

England's Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund's exciting 18-year old winger, produced a darting run late on after coming off the bench to replace Raheem Sterling and make his worldwide debut before the match fizzled out in the final few minutes.

Every player could be heard clearly on the pitch and it was more like watching a training session, or a game of Federation Internationale de Football Association, than a UEFA Nations League match.

Eric Dier and Harry Kane hit the woodwork on a night when Marcus Rashford wasted two great chances, meaning the opportunity to exact World Cup revenge went begging as the Group A4 encounter ended goalless on a odd night for all involved.

There were no fans allowed to be in attendance at Croatia's 8,000 Stadion HNK Rijeka due to the World Cup finalists being hit with a UEFA charge back in 2015 when a swastika symbol was marked out the pitch before the Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy - as if it had been burnt into the surface.

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".

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.

There was precious little else of note in a largely drab half in Rijeka, where Croatia found the best way to stop England's rapid attackers was scything them down.

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Henderson's own yellow card in the sixth minute rules him out of Monday's trip to Seville, where England will face another top-level midfield.

Croatia's Ivan Perisic forced a good save from Jordan Pickford with a stinging low shot and Ante Rebic, playing in an unfamiliar lone striker role, fired inches wide with a long-range effort for the revamped home side.

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

Southgate added that his players' deep antipathy towards England supporters stems from having spent a considerable amount of time in their presence.

Southgate's side were now in the ascendancy and Rashford should have put them ahead.

Kramaric had another shooting chance but again failed to make clean contact, Stones blocking, and with seconds running out Sancho's cross, after an excellent run down the right, just eluded his colleagues.

"And I had no hesitation in throwing Jadon Sancho on late on".

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