Kane books England Nations League semi-final spot as Croatia curse ended in dramatic style

England are into the UEFA Nations League semi-finals after seeing Harry Kane snatch a dramatic 2-1 victory over Croatia in their final fixture of the group stage.

The Three Lions headed into a game at Wembley Stadium fully aware of the boom or bust nature of the contest .

Gareth Southgate’s side knew victory would be enough to see them into the last four and edge them into contention for international silverware.

A defeat or score draw, however, would have seen them slide in the opposite direction and out of the League A elite.

England found themselves facing an uphill struggle once Andrej Kramaric broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.

Some abject defending from the home side presented the former Leicester striker with an opportunity to beat Jordan Pickford from inside the box.

He was able to twist and turn in front of static opposition before firing an effort which flicked off Eric Dier into the back of the net.

England had enjoyed the better chances to that point, but were faced with the threat of being left to count the cost of failing to take them.

Jesse Lingard was, however, to snatch a lifeline 12 minutes from the end when he bundled home from close range, and there was enough time on the clock for a remarkable turnaround to be completed .

Captain Kane duly delivered for the Three Lions as he ended his seven-game international goal drought to prod home in the 85th minute.

As a result, England now move forward as the winners of Group 4, with seven points collected from four outings.

In contrast, Croatia – who had been heading to the semis themselves at one stage – fall back into League B.

Southgate will be delighted with the spirit shown from his troops, especially as his young side found themselves battling against an all too familiar opponent.

It was Croatia who dashed England’s 2018 World Cup dreams in Russia, with Zlatko Dalic’s team recovering from a goal down to claim a 2-1 semi-final victory in extra-time.

The Three Lions also have painful memories of having faced the Croats on home soil back in November 2007.

On that occasion Steve McClaren’s side needed only to draw to book their place at another major finals, but were washed away in the Wembley rain as they suffered a shock 3-2 reversal.

Just as they did over the summer when ending their penalty pain in a meeting with Colombia, England have now shaken another monkey from their back and can continue to build towards a bright future.

They will discover their semi-final opponents when the draw is held in Dublin on December 3, with the games themselves set to be staged on June 5/6, 2019 in Portugal.

 

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