RIJEKA, Croatia – World Cup runner-up Croatia and the team it beat to reach the final, England, played to a 0-0 draw on Friday in a UEFA Nations League match.
Both teams, though the hosts to a greater degree, seemed to be affected by the absence of spectators in the stands at Rijeka’s Rujevica stadium.
Friday’s was the second of two official home matches Croatia had to play behind closed doors as punishment from UEFA for an incident in 2015 when a swastika was marked on the pitch in Split before a European qualifier against Italy.
The contest looked more like a meaningless friendly than a battle to determine which of the two teams would stake a claim to second place in League A Group 4, where Spain sit in first place with 6 points from two matches.
The determined England supporters who climbed a hill near the stadium to view the match could be forgiven for concluding that their efforts had been wasted.
Croatia’s sole scoring chance of the first half came when Josip Pivanic’s cross found Andrej Kramaric alone in front of goal, only for the forward to fire the ball into the hands of keeper Jordan Pickford.
England’s Eric Dier got his head to Jordan Henderson’s corner near the end of the first half, but his shot hit the post.
Ivan Perisic’s shot early in the second half forced a save from Pickford, while Harry Kane’s header bounced off the Croatia crossbar.
Marcus Rashford squandered a chance from 11 yards out before testing Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic two minutes later with a tremendous strike.
The result leaves each team with just 1 point from two matches, though the Three Lions have an advantage on goal difference.