Four months after an unbelievable semi-final defeat during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England’s optimism once again looked like it was going to be punctured by the experience and resilience of Croatia. However, the England squad, as we quickly found out, doesn’t use the same tactics and managed to engineer a mind-blowing comeback to reinstate the team’s reputation.
England Claims Victory Against Croatia
The two teams played for a place in the UEFA Nations League final and provided a dramatic match from start to finish. Croatia managed to take the lead thanks to Andrej Kramaric. However, the home side managed to score during the 78th minute and the 85th minute thanks to Jesse Lingard as well as Harry Kane, sending Wembley into a complete frenzy.
Although it took some time to be confirmed, it was a well-deserved victory from the England squad. Croatia pressed hard during the early stages of the match, but England was fully prepared as they played around with the opposition as they looked for the early ball to release Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, moving at a completely different pace to the severely panicked defenders who were assigned to defend them.
Sterling could have done better instead of firing a straight shot to the Croatian goalkeeper when received by Kane, and minutes later the captain of the England squad managed to fluff his lines when Barkley’s corner was sent straight to him by Stones. On multiple occasions, England’s sensational work was denied merely by last-ditch defending. The England captain witnessed a goal-bound shot which was unfortunately blocked by Tin Jedvaj along with a follow-up save from Kalinic. The Croatian team managed to make it to halftime on level grounds, failing to create a shot on target.
Sterling and Rashford’s fearless running and speed continue to be the best route for a breakthrough during the early stages of the second half, but it was the Croatian team who went ahead. Ante Rebic created a phenomenal counter-attack, feeding Kramaric, who clipped a shot off the outstretched leg of Eric Dier and past Jordan Pickford.
Déjà vu quickly grew as the attack of England crumbled against the Croatian squad, but the substitutions made by Southgate managed to turn the tide. New ideas and fresh legs were injected thanks to Jadon Sancho, Lingard, and Dele Alli. Lingard provided the equaliser after Kane managed to scramble the ball past Kalinic, setting the stage for a beautiful goal with only 6 minutes left on the clock.
If it wasn’t for Kane’s decisiveness and Southgate’s substitutions, the game would have been regarded as another monument for the Croatian squad that continues to defy both logic and belief in the months following their incredible final in the Russian World Cup. While the energy reserves of Croatia seemed limitless in 2018, it looked like physical exertion was the main reason England had the opportunity to add more pressure during the final minutes of the game, allowing them to win by one goal in order to get their revenge.