U21 Euros: Croatia Ends Tournament with Draw Against England (3:3)

Daniela Rogulj

June 24, 2019 – Croatia and England met for the final group stage game of the U21 Euros on Monday. Because both teams stood at the bottom of Group C, they would not be advancing further in the tournament and only played for pride.

Croatia’s U21s ended the Euros in San Marino against England with a Recall, Croatia’s young side lost 4:1 to Romania and 1:0 to France in their first two games of the tournament.

Coach Nenad Gračan made some changes in the lineup compared to the games against Romania and France. Namely, in the initial list, the previous reserves were Grbić, Čabraja, Kalaica, Moro, and Kulenović. Today’s starting lineup included Grbić, Uremović, Kalaica, Katić, Čabraja, Vlašić, Šunjić, Moro, Majer, Kulenović, and Brekalo.

The game started with a bit of bad luck on Croatia’s side as England was awarded a penalty in the 11th minute to lead 0:1. Both teams had chances in the following minutes, with England having the better of them. 

However, Croatia finally got their chance in the 39th minute. The promising Josip Brekalo sprinted up the left side, cut into the middle of the box to beat the defender and hit a far-post rocket for the equalizer! The game was 1:1 at the half.

England dimmed Croatia’s hopes just three minutes into the second half. After a blunder in Croatia’s defense, James Maddison put England back in the lead for 1:2.

But Croatia wouldn’t allow England’s lead to last long. Majer capitalized on a catastrophic defensive mistake by England, found the foot of Kulenović who then touched the ball to Nikola Vlašić for his second goal of the tournament and the equalizer! The game was 2:2 in the 62nd minute. 

Unfortunately, England took the lead for the third time in the game. Kenny scored in the 70th minute for 2:3. But Croatia continued to press, and a perfect through ball to Brekalo saw him nutmeg the keeper for 3:3!

The game ended 3:3, which was Croatia’s only draw of the tournament. Croatia has also finished last in Group C. 

By advancing to the semifinal of the Euros, Croatia would have automatically secured a spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which would have been historic for Croatian football.

However, Croatia’s young side will have to wait a bit longer. 

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