THE SOUND OF SI­LENCE

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - ROBBIE SAVAGE - BY STEVE BATES

GARETH SOUTH­GATE’S strik­ers were si­lenced in an eerily empty sta­dium as Eng­land blew a golden chance to kick-start their Na­tions League cam­paign.

Eng­land should have taken all three points against their World Cup semi-fi­nal con­querors be­hind closed doors in Ri­jeka.

Af­ter Tot­ten­ham duo Eric Dier and Harry Kane had hit the wood­work, Manch­ester United striker Mar­cus Rash­ford missed two glo­ri­ous sec­ond-half chances to gain some re­venge over Zlatko Dalic’s stars.

But Dier claimed it was dif­fi­cult for the play­ers to ad­just to the un­usual cir­cum­stances.

He said: “It was strange, the first ex­pe­ri­ence of it for all of us.

“A cou­ple of fans got up on the hill but once the game started it was in the back of our minds.

“We could eas­ily hear them, they were the only ones here.

“I thought I had scored and when I looked back I felt it was go­ing in. It was un­lucky and dis­ap­point­ing.”

The Croa­t­ians had to play the game be­hind closed doors af­ter crazy fans mowed a swastika into the pitch in Split be­fore a Euro 2016 qual­i­fier against Italy.

A hand­ful of Eng­land fans beat the ban, perch­ing on a nearby hill­side to give their sup­port.

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