England has advanced through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League after a 2-1 win against Croatia at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Around 3,000 Croatian fans were among the 70,000 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and for 20 minutes they enjoyed their side with the lead after Andrej Kramarić opened the scoring, but two goals in 7 minutes from the home side spoilt the party.
Coach Zlatko Dalić made one change from the side that beat Spain during the week in Zagreb with CSKA Moscow midfielder Nikola Vlašić replacing the injured Ivan Rakitić.
England started the match nervously and in the third minute Ante Rebić had a great chance when keeper Jordan Pickford couldn’t control a backpass but his shot would go over the bar.
England settled down quickly however and started to control possession. The hosts first chance came in the 8th minute when Raheem Sterling was put through on goal by Harry Kane but Lovre Kalinić in the Croatian goal made a fine save.
Kalinić was called into action again in the 16th minute denying Kane after Tin Jedvaj cleared with his head a shot on goal. Kramarić drew the first save out of Pickford after 20 minutes after a short corner.
Ben Chilwell went close next for England but Kalinić again saved before Ross Barkley saw his volley crash into the side netting.
Dalić brought young 20-year-old Josip Brekalo on at halftime for Rebić and it was the visitors who created the first chance of the second half but Perišić’s cross from inside the box was cleared for a corner.
The pace of Marcus Rashford and Sterling was causing all sorts of problems for Croatia’s defence and it was totally against the run of play that Croatia would take the lead in the 57th minute. Good work from Brekalo on the right and Vlašić who would find Kramarić in the box and after a number of faints, his shot would be deflected into the back of the net.
Croatia created a couple of half-chances through Perišić and Brozović but they could not test Pickford with their shots.
Croatia went close to taking the lead again in the 80th minute but Domagoj Vida’s header from a corner was cleared from the line and Brekalo’s rebound was saved.
England would get the decisive winner with five minutes remaining when Tottenham’s Kane got a foot to a free-kick which was whipped into the box.
Croatia is now relegated from the elite League of the UEFA Nations League to League B for next season.
“Congratulations to England and to our team for their fight. A fantastic season is now over. We lost but we went down fighting. We played a tough match a couple of days ago, they ran 23 kilometres and it was hard to recover as we just don’t have that much depth in the squad. Thanks also to the fans, there were fewer of them than the English but they were louder,” said Dalić, who is now looking forward to the EURO qualifiers which start in March.
ENGLAND 2-1 CROATIA
Wembley Stadium, London
GOALS: Kramarić 57′, Linegard 78′, Kane 85′
ENGLAND: Pickford – Chilwell, Stones, Gomez, Walker – Sterling, Delph, Dier, Rashford – Barkley, Kane
CROATIA: Kalinić – Jedvaj, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko (Milić 26′) – Vlašić (78′), Brozović, Modrić – Perišić, Rebić (Breaklo 45′), Kramarić