MX23RW : Friday, February 22 19:29:10
Nov 18, 2018 at 2pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 78,221
Lingard (78'), Kane (85')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Kramaric (57')

Live Commentary: England 2-1 Croatia - as it happened

Relive England's 2-1 win over Croatia as Gareth Southgate's side come from behind to book their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League.
Live Commentary: England 2-1 Croatia - as it happened
© Reuters

England booked their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League this afternoon courtesy of a come-from-behind win over Croatia at Wembley.

Andrej Kramaric gave the visitors the lead against the run of play shortly before the hour mark, which would have been enough for Croatia to win the group themselves while consigning England to relegation.

However, it is instead Croatia who go down after goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane turned things around for the home side.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of our minute-by-minute updates below.

1pmGood afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's crucial UEFA Nations League showdown between England and Croatia at Wembley!

It is all to play for today, with any of the three teams in Group A4 able to finish top going into this final match. England and Croatia ultimately have things in their own hands today, but both will be expecting very difficult tests here...

1.02pmENGLAND STARTING XI: Pickford; Walker, Gomez, Stones, Chilwell; Delph, Dier, Barkley; Sterling, Kane, Rashford

1.02pmENGLAND SUBS: Alexander-Arnold, Butland, Lingard, Dunk, Keane, Sancho, Shaw, Winks, Alli, McCarthy, Loftus-Cheek, Wilson

1.04pmCROATIA STARTING XI: Kalinic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Jedvaj; Modric, Brozovic; Rebic, Vlasic, Perisic; Kramaric

1.04pmCROATIA SUBS: Brekalo, Bradaric, Pasalic, Rog, Pjaca, Mitrovic, Caleta-Car, Milic, Letica, Livakovic, Pivaric, Badelj

1.06pmWhat can we make of those two sides, then?

Well, there are some interesting selections from the hosts, due partially to a minor injury for Jordan Henderson which prevents him from winning his 49th cap this afternoon.

Henderson is actually the most experienced member of the squad now that Wayne Rooney has left once again, but it is still a more experienced tea today than it was against USA on Thursday.

1.08pmEric Dier starts in midfielder ahead of Henderson, and Fabian Delph is one of only three players to keep their place in the side from the win over USA a few days ago.

Delph is likely to play in a slightly more advanced position this time around, with Ross Barkley completing the midfield trio, but it is interesting that the Manchester City man has been selected ahead of the likes of Alli, Loftus-Cheek and Sancho.

1.10pmCaptain Harry Kane returns to the team as expected, while he is joined in that front three by Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling - the latter of whom doubled his international goals tally with a brace in Betis last week.

Rashford was battling with clubmate Jesse Lingard for a place in the starting XI tonight, but Southgate has gone for Rashford in the end.

England striker Harry Kane in action during his side's international friendly with Nigeria at Wembley on June 2, 2018© Reuters

1.12pmJoe Gomez has overcome a small knock to start alongside John Stones at centre-back, but Luke Shaw only makes the bench having suffered from injury problems of his own this week.

Ben Chilwell therefore starts at left-back, with Kyle Walker coming in on the right as expected as Trent Alexander-Arnold drops out despite his goal against USA.

1.14pmAs for Croatia, they are without Ivan Rakitic due to injury but are still able to name an experienced side which should test the resolve of this youthful England team.

Nikola Vlasic comes into the side in place of Rakitic - who has returned to Barcelona - which also results in a switch of formation from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1.

1.17pmThat is the only change made by Zlatko Dalic for today's game, at least in terms of personnel, as he keeps faith with the team which beat Spain as much as possible.

Ante Rebic led the line in that match but is expected to play in a more reserved role today, with Kramaric expected to start as the one striker.

1.20pmThere is a 50th appearance for Dejan Lovren today, who starts despite the controversy of his comments regarding Sergio Ramos, but there is no Kovacic for his own half-century.

Tin Jedvaj does start once again, meanwhile, having scored twice in the victory over Spain - including a 93rd-minute winner.

1.22pmNo Rakitic for Croatia, then, but still plenty of talent in that team which should make this a very difficult test for England as they once again look to prove that they can mix it with the best teams in the world.

This will be the third time that England have faced Croatia in 2018, and on paper it looks like their best chance to win one of those too.

1.24pmThe mastermind behind the UEFA Nations League would be forgiven for sitting back with a smug smile on his or her face this afternoon given the state of play in Group A4.

Any of the three teams in the group could still finish top, while either England or Croatia are guaranteed to be relegated this afternoon, making this a truly must-win game.

1.26pmThe equation could be simple for England - and Croatia for that matter - as victory would see either team win the group, reach the semi-finals while the other team is relegated.

However, a goalless draw would see Spain win the group and Croatia finish third on goal difference, whereas a score draw would see England finish bottom and suffer relegation.

1.28pmAs things stand right now, Spain still sit top of the group despite their back-to-back defeats at the hands of Croatia and England.

La Roja looked to have things wrapped up after only two games - particularly following their 6-0 win over Croatia - but successive defeats have really opened things wide open in this group.

1.30pmThe Nations League was heavily questioned when the complex nature of the competition was outlined, but matches like this one are exactly the reason behind its creation.

This time last year England played out goalless draws against Germany and Brazil which failed to excite fans at all, but now it is all to play for in this game.

1.32pmEngland come into this match unbeaten in their last four games, and victory would cap off what has been a brilliant 2018 for Gareth Southgate's side.

Reaching the World Cup semi-finals will obviously be the headline for their year, but beyond that England have made great strides with a young team and their win over Spain in Betis was among their most memorable of recent times.

1.34pmEngland fielded their most inexperienced team since 1980 during Thursday's win over USA, with the starting XI having just 94 caps between them - some way short of Rooney's own tally.

Southgate's side still managed to cruise to a comfortable victory, though, with Wilson, Dunk and McCarthy all making their debuts and Wilson and Alexander-Arnold getting their first international goals.

1.36pmEngland may still be riding the wave of their victory over Spain at the moment, and they have an even better record when playing at home - despite losing to La Roja in their only Nations League home game so far.

That is one of just two defeats England have suffered from their last 27 matches on home soil, with 21 of those ending in victory.

1.38pmEngland are not the only nation to have enjoyed a brilliant year, of course, and Croatia cold top off the best 12 months in their history with victory today.

As is the case with England, a victory would send Croatia through whereas anything else will not do for them. A goalless draw would see Croatia relegated.

1.40pmIt is easy to forget how far Croatia have come in a relatively short space of time, and their achievements in 2018 deserve to be recognised for sure.

Just 12 months ago they played out a goalless draw with Greece to book their place in Russia, and since then it has more or less been improvement the whole way for Croatia.

1.42pmHaving said that, it has not all been plain-sailing for Croatia this year, despite their success.

Zlatko Dalic's side have lost to Peru, Brazil, France and Spain this year, and only narrowly beat Jordan last month to end a four-match winless streak.

1.44pmCroatia also needed extra time or penalties in all of their World Cup knockout games, although it is hard to be critical of a team which has done so well this year.

A victory today would really cap off a special year for the Croats.

1.46pmDalic's side will certainly come into this match full of confidence having picked up such an impressive result over Spain on Thursday, but they are by no means favourites.

Croatia have won just one of their last 11 away games too, failing to score in six of those including their most recent away outing - the 6-0 defeat to Spain.

1.48pmCroatia got their revenge in the reverse fixture on Thursday with the last-gasp winner to set up this crucial showdown, and they have shown in the past that they are capable of winning here.

One slight concern may be how much longer this team can keep on going for, with Mandzukic now retired, Modric and Rakitic the wrong side of 30 and other approaching that age too.

1.50pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at Wembley, which means that it is time for a prediction!

This should be a very interesting game, and it looks very even on paper too. We are backing the hosts to eke out a small victory. though.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: England 2-1 Croatia

1.53pmThis will be the 10th meeting between these two sides, and the third this year alone after they faced off in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Croatia won on that occasion - via extra time - to break England's hearts just one game short of their 1966 moment, whereas in the reverse fixture of the Nations League they played out an eerie 0-0 draw.

1.56pmEngland's most recent win over Croatia came in September 2009, when a 5-1 win saw them seal qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

that is England's only previous win over Croatia at Wembley, though, with a draw in 1996 and that famous defeat in 2007 which prevented England from qualifying for Euro 2008. England's only other win against Croatia on home soil saw then win at Portman Road.

1.58pmRight, we're almost ready for kickoff in this crucial crunch match! A reminder of the team news before we do get started...

ENGLAND STARTING XI: Pickford; Walker, Gomez, Stones, Chilwell; Delph, Dier, Barkley; Sterling, Kane, Rashford

CROATIA STARTING XI: Kalinic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Jedvaj; Modric, Brozovic; Rebic, Vlasic, Perisic; Kramaric

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go! We're underway at Wembley!

2 minCHANCE!  Chance for Croatia early on as Pickford makes a mess of a back-pass from Fabian Delph, gifting possession to Rebic. The Croatia striker has Pickford out of position, but puts far too much on his finish and blasts it well over the crossbar.

4 minThat was a nervy start for England, with PIckford seemingly changing his mind at the last moment when he realised it would be a back-pass. The hosts are starting to settle a little bit more now, though.

6 minDelph pings a pass over the defence for Walker to latch on to down the right channel, but his cross inside is plucked out of the air by Kalinic in the Croatia goal.

8 minLovely flick from Barkley into the path of Sterling, who immediately carries the ball into the heart of the Croatia defence. However, he doesn't fancy the shot on his left and instead passes it, only for his pass to be cut out and knocked behind for a corner.

9 minThe first corner comes to nothing, but the second almost sees Rashford get his head onto it at the front post. However, he cannot get anything on his finish and Croatia are able to hack the ball clear.

11 minCHANCE!  Chance for England here as Sterling races clear down the right channel but sees his effort well saved by the keeper while one on one.

12 minCHANCE!  Huge chance from the resulting corner as Stones flicks the ball on to a completely unmarked Kane at the back post, but he gets his finish all wrong from close range! England piling the pressure on now!

14 minEngland are very much on top in this game now - they are seeing the lion's share of possession and are putting Croatia under plenty of pressure at the moment.

16 minCHANCE!  More chances for England to break the deadlock, but Kane cannot squeeze it in! Delph unlocks the defence with a lovely pass forward for Sterling, who races on to it but is beaten to the ball by the keeper.

Kalinic can only get enough on it to take it to Kane, who sees his first effort cleared off the line by Jedvaj and the second saved by a retreating Kalinic.

18 minEngland could - and should - be one or two goals to the good right now. It has been a really positive start from Gareth Southgate's side so far.

18 minEngland could - and should - be one or two goals to the good right now. It has been a really positive start from Gareth Southgate's side so far.

20 minEngland have done everything but score in this opening 20 minutes. Southgate will be delighted with the performance so far, but they need to take advantage with a goal.

21 minPerisic whips a dangerous low cross into the near post which has Pickford worried, but Stones takes control and puts it behind for a corner.

22 minPickford hammers the resulting corner forward for Rashford to latch on to and for a moment it looks as though the pacey striker is in on goal, only for Vrsaljko to dive in with a brilliant challenge.

24 minHere is that big chance for Kane - one of a few England have created in the opening quarter of this game...

25 minSAVE!  A corner is only cleared as far as Chilwell, who fires a dipping volley towards goal which is shovelled away by the keeper.

26 minYELLOW CARD!  Barkley picks up a yellow card for a cynical foul on Modric to stop a counter-attack.

27 minCROATIA SUB: The visitors are forced into an early change here as Vrsaljko is replaced by Antonio Milic.

29 minWe're approaching the half-hour mark in this game and there is plenty for England to be happy about so far, but they really should be ahead. All that is missing is the opening goal.

31 minCroatia have just begun to see a bit more of the ball in the last few minutes. The visitors have struggled to keep hold of it so far today, but it has been better from them recently.

33 minThe game has just entered a little bit of a lull with England struggling to find their rhythm in attack at the moment. Croatia have done well to stem the tide of chances the hosts were creating.

35 minRashford bursts forward with some nice footwork before feeding the ball in for Kane. The captain has his back to goal but is able to tee up Barkley, who turns down a shot and works it out wide instead - a missed opportunity!

37 minCroatia will be happy to get into half time with the scores still level in this one, but they do need to score today as a goalless draw sees them relegated. We should see more from the visitors in the second half.

38 minCHANCE!  Good chance for Croatia as Rebic reaches the byline down the left channel before putting the ball in towards the near post where Perisic is waiting to blaze it over the crossbar.

40 minCHANCE!  Kalinic comes out for a cross from the left but gets nowhere near the ball, which is only cleared as far as Barkley. It is a difficult chance for the Chelsea man, who watches it all the way but can only fire his volley into the side-netting.

42 minHalf a chance for Croatia as the ball is worked to Rebic inside the area, and he creates space to shoot. However, he cannot keep his shot down.

44 minWalker gets down the right and pulls a low ball back into the box which almost falls for Dier, but once again Croatia are able to hack it away.

45 minSHOT!  Rebic has not brought his shooting boots today! He has another sight of goal here, but once again he blazes it well over from range.

45+1 minThere will be one minute of added time at the end of this first half.


2.56pmThe first half ends goalless, then, but England won't be quite sure of how as they should be ahead in this one.

The hosts have played some really good football in this match and have created plenty of chances, but the only thing missing so far has been a goal.

2.58pmThe best chance of the match fell to Harry Kane - the man England would have wanted it to fall to - but he couldn't turn it home from close range. Stones had flicked the corner on from the front post, but Kane got his finish all wrong.

3pmKane has had other chances too - notably when Kaliic had raced out of his goal to beat Sterling to a pass over the defence - but he saw his first effort cleared off the line while the second was saved by the keeper.

Sterling has also missed a one-on-one chance, and Southgate will be urging his players to be more clinical in the final third during the second half.

3.02pmCroatia's chances have been much rarer, but they could have broken the deadlock in the opening couple of minutes when Rebic blazed over after Pickford's error.

Perisic also had a shooting chance five minutes before half time, but the hosts will certainly need to show more in the second half if they are to avoid relegation.

46 minKICKOFF:  We're back underway for the second half, and the first thing to tell you is that Croatia have made a change, with Josip Brekalo replacing Rebic.

48 minSolid start to the second half from Croatia, who are seeing a decent amount of the ball now. There was a 15-minute spell in the first half when they were on the ropes, but they are holding their own now.

49 minMarcus Rashford has two chances to burst past his marker to the byline, but he is repelled first time before being dispossessed second time around.

51 minDangerous break forward from Croatia as Kramaric feeds the ball into the path of the overlapping Perisic, whose low cross into the box is dealt with.

52 minCHANCE!  England respond with a break of their own and the ball is played in to Sterling inside the area, but he cannot get good enough contact to really trouble the keeper with his finish.

54 minEngland are still seeing plenty of the ball and playing with confidence too, but they are struggling to find a way through his Croatia defence right now.

56 minBarkley drives forward in midfield and sees his shot blocked before Dier wins it back and swings a cross straight into the arms of the keeper.


57 minGOAL!  Out of nothing, Croatia break the deadlock!

A low pass into the box finds Kramaric, who has his back to goal and initially it looks as though he has to give it to Perisic. However, he keeps hold of it, twisting and turning and leaving Stones on the deck before seeing his shot deflect off Dier before looping past Pickford.

59 minCHANCE!  Lightning break from Croatia as they race forward from an England attack, and it ends with the ball being pulled back for Brozovic, who spoons his finish over the crossbar.

61 minCroatia are suddenly beginning to look quite dangerous here! This time Perisic races down the left flank, but he has no support and his low cross into the box flashes right across the face of goal.

63 minA reminder of the situation after that Croatia goal - England must now scored twice to avoid being relegated. One goal and a draw will still see them relegated, while defeat has obvious implications.

64 minENGLAND SUB: Southgate makes his first change of tbe afternoon as Dele Alli replaces Barkley.

66 minEngland need to begin taking risks in this one with two goals required. They have played well here, but need more of a cutting edge.

67 minYELLOW CARD!  Two yellows in a matter of seconds as Brozovic and Jedvaj go into the book.

68 minSAVE!  The ball is only cleared as far as Walker, who lines up a shot and drills an effort towards goal which Kalinic has to save.

70 minJust 20 minutes remaining now for England to drag themselves back into this match! Defeat would be harsh on the hosts, although they have not been quite as dominant in this second half.

72 minAnother Croatia goal could kill this game off, and the visitors are looking dangerous on the counter-attack. England have to accept that risk now, though.

73 minENGLAND SUBS: Double change for England here as Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard replace Rashford and Delph.

75 minCroatia are just happy to sit back and soak up this England pressure at the moment. Kalinic has not been really tested yet in this second half.

76 minCHANCE!  Big chance for Croatia to kill this game off as they break forward again, but England's scrambling defenders get back to stop the shots from Brozovic.


78 minGOAL!  Game on! Lingard levels things up with the easiest finish of his career, tapping it over the line into an empty net from point-blank range.

Kane had initially taken a free kick down and poked it past the keeper, and Lingard was waiting there to complete the job.

80 minThat goal is great news for Spain - as things stand they will be heading through to the semi-finals, while Croatia would be second and England would be relegated.

82 minOFF THE LINE!  Croatia look to regain their lead late on as one low strike is cleared off the line before Pickford is called upon to keep out a follow-up attempt.

84 min


85 minGOAL!  What a turnaround from England as Harry Kane puts the hosts on the brink of the semi-finals!

A free kick is swung in from the left and Kane once again shows his poacher's instincts by sliding in to turn the ball past the keeper.

87 minCroatia now need two goals themselves to reach the semi-finals - one would only prevent them from being relegated. England are heading to the Finals as things stand!

89 minYELLOW CARD!  Lovren becomes the latest player to pick up a yellow card.

90+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.


3.58pmGlory for England, then, as they reach the Nations League semi-finals courtesy of victory over Croatia - one they left late to exorcise some of their World Cup demons.

Croatia took the lead through Kramaric, but goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane saw Gareth Southgate's side turn it around in thrilling fashion.

4pmRight, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as England come from behind to beat Croatia and book their place in the Nations League semi-finals. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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England striker Harry Kane in action during his side's international friendly with Nigeria at Wembley on June 2, 2018
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