This game will unfortunately be remembered by England fans for a bizarre own goal in the second half. Despite this error or misfortune (whichever way you look at it), what we should keep in perspective is that England did not score in this game, and you need goals to win. England did not look like they were going to score this evening and were it not for Paul Robinson, the scoreline would have been much heavier in the favour of Croatia. It should be pointed out that Croatia had never lost a qualifying match at home and that record was still intact after this game.
Steve McClaren opted to start the match with a 3-5-2 formation which obviously was not successful. There was an early indication of how the match would play out in only the 6th minute when Robinson was forced to make a diving save from Eduardo. A quarter of the way into the contest, Robinson blocked Kranjcar's volley from 8 yards.
Croatia continued to control the game into the second half and Robinson was again forced to make a save from a header, this time from Petric. It was a quiet evening from England's attackers, but Rooney fancied his luck after running onto a Peter Crouch header, but the Manchester United star's effort went over the bar.
Croatia finally went into the lead in the 61st minute after Eduardo headed the ball into England's net following a long cross from Kovac. Eight minutes later came what looked to be a comical error from Paul Robinson, but what actually happened was a back pass from Gary Neville hit a divot as Robinson went to clear the ball and bounced over his foot and rolled into the goal. This should not be the focus of the game however as Robinson had kept England in the game with some great saves earlier in the match, and he produced an excellent save a couple of minutes after this incident. McClaren sent on his three substitutes with less than 20 minutes remaining and reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation but nothing materialised.
It is troubling that England once again failed to get on the scoresheet and create many decent attacks. With the exception of a friendly next month against Holland, England now have 5 months to prepare for their next competitive match. Perhaps Beckham should be brought back into the team!
Pletikosa #1, Corluka #5, Kovac R #4, Simic #2, Simunic #3, Kovac N #10, Kranjcar #19 (Babic 89 mins - #8), Modric #14, Rapaic #7 (Olic 76 mins - #18), Eduardo #22 (Leko 81 mins - #16), Petric #21.
Subs Not Used: Runje #23, Knezevic #15, Seric #20, Klasnic #17.
Robinson #1, Carragher #4 (Wright-Phillips 73 mins - #16), A Cole #3, Ferdinand #5, G Neville #2, Terry #6, Carrick #7, Lampard #8, Parker #11 (Defoe 72 mins - #17), Crouch #10 (Richardson 72 mins - #14), Rooney #9.
Subs Not Used: Kirkland #13, P Neville #12, Jenas #15, Bent #18. (Full Squad)
Croatia Goals: Eduardo (61 mins), G Neville og (69 mins)
Croatia Caution: N Kovac (63 mins)
England Cautions: Ferdinand (20 mins), A Cole (77 mins)
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)