Empty stands for England a reminder football should be for the fans

Tottenham’s Harry Kane with Mauricio Pochettino

"This feels like a game we should have won but I was really pleased with the way we played".

The game was built up by some English media as a chance for the visitors to avenge Croatia's 2-1 World Cup semi-final win in Russian Federation in July but the game failed to produce any fireworks.

Croatia were completing a UEFA sanction to play two matches behind closed doors after a swastika symbol was carved into the pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy over three years ago.

"He had the chance he buried from just offside", said Southgate.

Gareth 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.

Sancho became the second youngest England player to win his first cap in a competitive game, behind Manchester United's Duncan Edwards who died at the age of 21 as a result of the injuries he suffered in the Munich air crash of 1958.

There was precious little else of note in a largely drab half in Rijeka, where Croatia found the best way to stop England's rapid attackers was scything them down.

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Andrej Kramaric's bouncing strike was stopped by Pickford before Rashford, struggling to get into the game, could not make the most of a Kane pass that opened up space down the left.

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.

Midfielder Dier reflected on the first match England had ever played behind closed doors, although he noted the presence of a handful of England fans on a hill overlooking the ground.

First Perisic saw a low drive well stopped by Pickford, and then Kane met a Henderson free kick with a header that came back off the bar before Perisic cleared. Both players' first thought seemed to pass backwards or sideways, leaving the creative burden on Ross Barkley exclusively.

Southgate's side were now in the ascendancy and Rashford should have put them ahead. And he got the chance to make his debut in Rijeka as he came on for the final 12 minutes.

It was just the latest in a litany of offences for racism that has seen Croatia consistently punished with fans banned for home matches.

It was a surreal and unusual experience watching the Three Lions with atmosphere replaced by silence and the World Cup semi-final rematch suffered as a result.

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