MX23RW : Tuesday, February 19 05:37:45

Result: England play out stalemate with Croatia in Rijeka

Marcus Rashford squanders two opportunities as England draw 0-0 with Croatia in their second UEFA Nations League outing.

England have played out a 0-0 draw with Croatia at the Stadion HNK Rijeka to pick up their first UEFA Nations League point.

Ninety-three days on from their World Cup semi-final, which the Vatreni won 2-1 in Moscow, the sides played out a far quieter stalemate at an empty ground.

The Three Lions squandered a big chance to win the match through a couple of Marcus Rashford openings early in the second half, while Harry Kane and Eric Dier hit the frame of the goal either side of half time.

A point apiece leaves Spain out in front at the top of Group A4 ahead of Monday's meeting with England in Seville, as they have six points from their first two matches.

Marcus Rashford and Mateo Kovacic battle for the ball during England's goalless draw with Croatia on October 12, 2018© Reuters

England were playing a match behind closed doors for the first time in their history, a run spanning 987 matches, and the lack of noise from the stands was reflected by the events on the field.

England managed just one effort in the opening 45 minutes, coming right at the end when Dier flicked on a corner and hit the far post, which neither Harry Maguire nor Rashford could convert from the rebound due to the awkward bounce.

The Three Lions lacked any sort of creative ideas from open play, though, and their opponents - coming into this match on the back of a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain - did not fare much better.

Ante Rebic clipped the roof of the net with an attempted chip from outside of the box, while Ivan Perisic's shot from 15 yards was blocked by Dier.

Croatia should have opened the scoring 37 minutes in through the first half's only real opportunity, only for Andrej Kramaric to hit the ball into the ground when picked out by Perisic's left-sided cross, allowing Jordan Pickford to make the save.

Going into a match with a four-man defence for the first time in a year, which Gareth Southgate hoped would lead to more possession for his side, England offered far more in the early stages of the second period.

Rashford, boasting goals in back-to-back games for his country, dragged a shot wide and Kane sent a header against the crossbar from his first touch of the ball in the final third.

Better chances would fall Rashford's way shortly before the hour mark, but he got his first-time shot all wrong when he only had Dominik Livakovic to beat in the Croatia goal, before being denied by the young keeper on his second cap when attempting to curl it out of reach.

Pickford parried Perisic's low drive to safety up the other end in a more entertaining second half in Rijeka, and Rebic had Pickford a little worried with his well-hit shot that ended inches wide.

England, who also had a weak penalty shout rejected for Mateo Kovacic's clip on clubmate Ross Barkley, introduced Jadon Sancho for the final 12 minutes.

Sancho enjoyed a couple of bright moments during his short time on the field, but he could not mark his debut with a telling contribution as the match petered out to its conclusion.

CROATIA (4-2-3-1): Livakovic; Jedvaj, Vida, Lovren, Pivaric; Kovacic (Badelj 73'), Rakitic; Perisic (Pjaca 68'), Modric, Rebic (Livaja 80'); Kramaric

ENGLAND (4-3-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Dier, Henderson, Barkley; Sterling (Sancho 78'), Kane, Rashford

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England's Jordan Henderson gestures in the match against Sweden on July 7, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City27212474205465
2Liverpool26205159154465
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs26200654252960
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd26156552351751
5Arsenal26155653371650
6Chelsea26155645291650
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2611693433139
8Watford2610793434037
9Everton2796123639-333
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham2696113239-733
11Bournemouth26103133747-1033
12Leicester CityLeicester2695123134-332
13Crystal Palace2676132734-727
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2676132839-1127
15Burnley2676132947-1827
16Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2667132234-1225
17Cardiff CityCardiff2674152447-2325
18Southampton2659122844-1624
19Fulham2645172558-3317
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2625191448-3411

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