Eng­land miss out as they draw in Croa­tia

Derby Telegraph - - SPORT - By SPORTS RE­PORTER

ENG­LAND should have se­cured their first Na­tions League vic­tory as Gareth South­gate’s men dealt with the quirks of play­ing be­hind closed doors and had the best chances against Croa­tia.

Only 93 days af­ter the Three Lions lost to Zlatko Dalic’s men in the World Cup semi-fi­nals, the coun­tries met in sur­round­ings that could scarcely have been more dif­fer­ent to July’s huge en­counter at the packed Luzh­niki.

The vir­tu­ally-empty Sta­dion HNK Ri­jeka hosted Eng­land’s first match be­hind closed doors as Croa­tia com­pleted a ground ban im­posed by UEFA for hav­ing a swastika on the pitch dur­ing a Euro 2016 qual­i­fier against Italy.

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 0-0 on a strange night for all in­volved.

The game did bring a first in­ter­na­tional cap for Jadon San­cho of Borus­sia Dort­mund, who came on as a sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute to be­come the first player born this mil­len­nium to play for the se­nior side, but there was no cap for Derby County loan player Ma­son Mount, who was an un­used sub­sti­tute.

There were reg­u­lar, dis­tant cries from a small group of hardy Eng­land fans who had found a van­tage point high above one of the stands but those ef­forts were re­warded with a poor first half in which Dier hit the post late on.

Eng­land im­proved af­ter the break as Kane hit the wood­work be­fore Rash­ford missed two fine chances, while Ante Re­bic curled just wide for a Croa­tia side that had lost their Na­tions League opener 6-0 in Spain.

South­gate’s men face their own Span­ish test on Mon­day with­out the sus­pended Jor­dan Henderson and John Stones but there are cer­tainly promis­ing mo­ments to build on.

Ben Chilwell im­pressed, with the Le­ices­ter City left-back pro­vid­ing a fine cross 12 min­utes into his first Eng­land start and Raheem Ster­ling would have tucked it away was it not for Josip Pi­varic’s in­ter­ven­tion.

Ivan Perisic’s blocked ef­fort was the best Croa­tia man­aged in the first half un­til over­lap­ping Pi­varic fired over a cross to An­drej Kra­maric, with the for­mer Le­ices­ter striker’s mishit at­tempt stopped by goal­keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford.

Penalty claims were re­jected as Ross Barkley, mak­ing his first Eng­land ap­pear­ance in 868 days, went down in the box - and Stones’ frus­tra­tion at that de­ci­sion re­sulted in a foul that brought a book­ing and sus­pen­sion.

South­gate’s side were now in the as­cen­dancy and Rash­ford should have put them ahead. Two min­utes af­ter fail­ing to greet a fine Kyle Walker cross with the fin­ish it de­served from close range, he was put through by Ster­ling but some­how failed to beat Li­vakovic.

Kane saw an ef­fort ruled out for off­side and seem­ingly broke the net in the process, lead­ing to a pause in play that saw Eng­land fans get a wave from Pick­ford.

His­tory boy San­cho showed flashes of ex­cite­ment af­ter his 78thminute in­tro­duc­tion, with his threat­en­ing late cross caus­ing prob­lems in a match that ended goal­less. HARRY Wil­son knew Derby County was the club for him as soon as he spoke to Frank Lam­pard.

The Liver­pool winger joined the Rams in July on a sea­son-long loan af­ter im­press­ing at Hull City dur­ing the 2017-18 cam­paign.

Wil­son hit seven goals in 13 ap­pear­ances for the Tigers and was re­warded with a new con­tract at the Reds.

Jur­gen Klopp wanted more first-team ex­pe­ri­ence for Wil­son and the 21-year-old knew where he wanted to go af­ter speak­ing to Lam­pard.

“He’s been great,” Wil­son said when asked about Lam­pard. “I spoke to him on the phone be­fore I came to Derby.

“What he told me about how he wanted his team to play made me re­alise it was the right club for me.

“Since I’ve been there I have learned a lot. The way we have played in the last month or so has shown how we have pro­gressed as a team.

“I feel fit and strong and am re­ally en­joy­ing my foot­ball at the minute.”

Wil­son started the Rams’ open­ing three games this sea­son but then spent more than a month on the side­lines af­ter sus­tain­ing a groin prob­lem in the Carabao Cup win at Old­ham Ath­letic.

He re­turned to ac­tion in a goal­less draw against Black­burn Rovers, be­fore scor­ing two goals in two games, against Brent­ford and Manch­ester United.

Wil­son was a starter for Wales in their friendly against Spain at the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium on Thurs­day.

“I’m in the Wales squad reg­u­larly now and I’m de­lighted,” he said. “I made my de­but at a very young age and Chris Cole­man put his faith in me.

“I didn’t get an ap­pear­ance for a few years but when you’re that young you’ve got to be pa­tient, you have to learn your trade on the foot­ball lad­der and now I’m back in the Wales squad I want to stay there.”

Raheem Ster­ling jumps for a header in front of and empty sta­dium dur­ing Eng­land’s Na­tions League match against Croa­tia. Ross Barkley (in­set) evades Ante Re­bic and Ivan Rakitic.

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