Croa­tia holds Eng­land in empty sta­dium

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Ri­jeka, Croa­tia - Croa­tia coach Zlatko Dalic de­scribed a 0-0 Na­tions League draw on Fri­day with Eng­land in a World Cup semi­fi­nal re­match as a "sad" day for foot­ball as fans were banned from the clash in Ri­jeka.

Croa­tia was com­plet­ing a UEFA sanc­tion af­ter a swastika sym­bol was carved into the pitch dur­ing a Euro 2016 qual­i­fier against Italy over three years ago. "The at­mo­sphere is not easy for any­body. It is sad for foot­ball but hope­fully this is our last time," said Dalic.

"Foot­ball is played for the fans. It's sad the sec­ond and fourth team from the World Cup are play­ing be­hind closed doors. I don't know who it is good for."

In front of the empty stands, Mar­cus Rash­ford missed two glo­ri­ous chances to ex­act Eng­land a small mea­sure of re­venge for miss­ing out on the World Cup fi­nal to Croa­tia 93 days ago in Moscow.

Eric Dier and Harry Kane also hit the wood­work for the vis­i­tors, who en­joyed the bet­ter of a sub­dued game be­fit­ting of the bizarre at­mo­sphere.

"It feels like a game we should have won," said Eng­land man­ager Gareth South­gate.

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 semi­fi­nals next sum­mer.

Other re­sults on Fri­day: League B: Group 3: Aus­tria 1 North­ern Ire­land 0; League C: Group 2: Greece 1 Hun­gary 0, Estonia 0 Finland 1; League D: Group 2: Be­larus 1 Luxembourg 0, Moldova 2 San Marino 0.

Thierry Henry

(AFP)

Eng­land's John Stones (cen­tre) vies with Croa­tia's goal­keeper Do­minik Li­vakovic dur­ing their Na­tions League match in Ri­jeka, on Fri­day

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