England play Croatia in Rijeka on Friday night in their second Nations League game – less than 100 days after suffering World Cup semi-final heartbreak against their hosts.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at five memorable meetings between the two sides.
Two goals from Wayne Rooney proved more than enough to secure Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England safe passage into the quarter-finals. Croatia took an early lead in Lisbon through Niko Kovac but Paul Scholes levelled with a header for the Three Lions. Rooney then struck either side of half-time, with Frank Lampard adding the fourth after Igor Tudor had reduced the arrears.
A bizarre Gary Neville own goal helped heap pressure on England boss Steve McClaren as his side struggled to secure qualification for the European Championships. Eduardo headed Croatia in front in Zagreb before Neville’s back-pass hit a divot and bounced over the foot of goalkeeper Paul Robinson as he looked to clear, resulting in a calamitous moment for the away side. Having drawn 0-0 with Macedonia at Old Trafford four days earlier, the pressure was building on McClaren to put things right.
Defeat in Russia in their penultimate qualifier meant England needed something against Slaven Bilic’s Croatia at Wembley. But instead it was another evening to forget for McClaren, who watched on forlornly from under an umbrella as his England side were beaten in the rain. A terrible error from goalkeeper Scott Carson allowed Niko Kranjcar to put Croatia in front before Ivica Olic doubled their advantage inside 15 minutes. England rallied as Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch scored, only for Mladen Petric to settle the match in favour of the visitors. McClaren was asked to clear his desk soon after.
Fast-forward 10 months and England, under new manager Fabio Capello, were flying in their World Cup qualification group. Enter 19-year-old Theo Walcott, who stunned Zagreb with a hat-trick at the Maksimir Stadium. The winger scored the opening two goals either side of Robert Kovac’s red card for the hosts and took home the match ball after adding his third following Wayne Rooney’s well-taken effort. England would seal qualification for the World Cup in South Africa with a 5-1 thrashing of Croatia a year later.
The last meeting between the two nations will still be etched on the memory of both sets of supporters. With a place in the World Cup final at stake, Kieran Trippier’s stunning early free-kick gave Gareth Southgate’s men the advantage in Moscow. Harry Kane then hit a post before Croatia rallied. Ivan Perisic equalised to take the game into extra-time, where Mario Mandzukic capitalised on some static defending to score the winner and break English hearts.