England played out an uneventful 0-0 stalemate with World Cup semi-final foes Croatia on Friday evening but should have claimed their first three points of the UEFA Nations League.
The Three Lions travelled to Rijeka fresh from the news of Gareth Southgate’s new contract in the eerie surroundings of an empty Stadion HNK Rijeka.
The first half was as insipid as the atmosphere, with Croatia registering the only shot on target and the match being played at training pace – both issues bound to leave group leaders Spain gleaming, no doubt.
Marcus Rashford had both of the fixture’s best chances within five minutes of each other in the second half but failed to put away either in a one-on-one position with the goalkeeper.
To add to England’s frustrations, Eric Dier hit the post and skipper Harry Kane hit the crossbar on either side of the break.
Here are the England player ratings from the frustrating goalless draw.
GK: Jordan Pickford - 7
Had to react well to deny Andrej Kramaric in the first half but ultimately a quiet night for the England number one; he’ll be expecting more action at Spain next time out.
RB: Kyle Walker - 7
Provided a pin-point cross for Marcus Rashford, who should’ve broken the deadlock, and constantly looked to create danger down the right flank.
CB: Harry Maguire - 6
Performed well alongside Stones in the heart of the defence and the partnership was only breached once throughout the whole of the 90 minutes.
CB: John Stones - 6
Potentially now England’s first-choice centre-back, Stones had a point to prove against a tricky attack but defended admirably and dominated the first third.
LB: Ben Chilwell - 7
A very good debut. Never seemed nervous against Croatia’s powerful wingers and looked calm and collected on the ball.
CM: Eric Dier - 6
It was a rather hassle-free evening for the Tottenham Hotspur star, whose place in the starting line-up was initially heavily questioned. He almost broke the deadlock as he headed onto the post in the first period.
CM: Jordan Henderson - 6
He’ll miss the trip to Spain on Monday night after picking up another yellow in Rijeka but that won’t overrule a controlled showing in the middle of the park.
CM: Ross Barkley - 5
As the most advanced centre-midfielder, Barkley was expected to be the link from midfield to attack but that link didn’t quite create a spark, which left frontman Harry Kane stranded for far too long.
RW: Raheem Sterling - 7
Looked lively in the forward line and repeatedly tried to make things tick before making way for debutant Jadon Sancho with just less than 15 minutes left.
LW: Marcus Rashford - 4
A night to forget for Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United youngster had two glorious opportunities to score in his third consecutive England outing but fluffed both while one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
ST: Harry Kane - 5
The captain’s header that cannoned off the crossbar in the second half seriously seemed like his first touch all game. He was abandoned up top far too much but did find the net… from an offside position. A tough one for him.
SUB: Jadon Sancho - 6
The player on everyone’s lips at the moment is – no, not Usain Bolt – Jadon Sancho. He received his first international call-up following his impressive exploits at Borussia Dortmund this season and looked very lively in the 15 minutes he was on the right flank.