Rashford Wastes Chances As England-Croatia Rematch Ends Scoreless

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England and Croatia face a struggle to unseat Spain at the top of their Nations League group after playing out a goalless draw in an empty stadium in Rijeka.

Croatia had been ordered to play the match behind closed doors after a swastika was marked on the pitch in Split ahead of a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.

And the World Cup finalists appeared to miss the backing of their home fans as they struggled to make their mark on the match, with England dominating after a poor first half from both sides.

But Gareth Southgate's men could not atone for their semi-final defeat to the same opponents in Russia, despite hitting the woodwork twice and seeing Marcus Rashford waste a pair of fantastic opportunities

 

The absence of spectators – with the exception of a hardy group of England supporters watching from the top of a nearby hill – contributed to a low-key opening in Rijeka, with shots at goal about as common as fans through the turnstiles in the early stages.

The game's first shot on target did not arrive until the 37th minute, when Andrej Kramaric failed to truly test Jordan Pickford from the centre of the box.

Eric Dier came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock just before the break, but his glancing header across goal from a Jordan Henderson corner bounced back off the left-hand upright, and Tottenham colleague Harry Kane nodded against the crossbar shortly after the restart.

England started to dominate play and Rashford should have put the visitors ahead after 55 minutes, but the flimsy finish with which he greeted an inviting Kyle Walker ball into the box left Dominik Livakovic with a comfortable save.

It got no better for Rashford two minutes later, when the Manchester United frontman failed to slot past the goalkeeper after being played through on goal by Raheem Sterling.

Southgate introduced debutant Jadon Sancho for the final 15 minutes, but the Borussia Dortmund attacker – England's second-youngest debutant in a competitive game after Duncan Edwards - was unable to make a match-winning impact.