Full-time - 90'
2 - 3
20:00 +00:00, November 21, 2007
Wembley Stadium, London, England
Referee: Peter Frojdfeldt
Confirmation that Russia have won in Andorra comes in and England are out. An horrific night for England, one which will take a long, long time to get over. This is set to be an ugly, ugly post mortem.
The Croatians are jubilant but England have thrown it away, yet again. A catalogue of errors has handed Croatia a win they thoroughly deserve. The inquest starts here, and the noose hangs just over Steve McClaren's head.
It's all over! England are out of the Euro 2008 finals, barring a miracle in Andorra.
Again Crouch wins a long ball and no-one is anywhere near it to pick up the pieces. This is all but over.
Croatia are wasting time expertly, keeping the ball and winning fouls. One minute left.
Poor corner from England then Rakitic had a great chance to settle things. Gerrard muscled him out of it though.
Lescott flicked a Campbell header and it nearly crept in. Corner.
A punt from Campbell nearly found Defoe. Throw in.
Three added minutes. One goal to save a nation's dreams, and one man's job.
Lescott has gone up front now too, but gives a free-kick away. Time for Croatia to slow things down.
Carson handles well from a shot by Srna but his punt upfield is straight to Corluka.
Poor ball from Lampard when he was under no pressure at all. Two minutes left.
Throw for England deep in Croatia territory.
Gerrard again misplaces a pass when Beckham was free, and the dream is slowly slipping away for England.
Bent goes close for England! Put through by Lampard he turned the defender, hit it on the half-volley and it just lifted over the bar!
Simunic heads behind from the corner and England regroup.
Srna cleverly wins a corner off Bridge and time is running out fast for England.
Olic is off, Rakitic is on for Croatia.
It all relies on the knock-downs from Crouch now, and whether Bent or Defoe can pick up the scraps.
Croatia still look mighty dangerous on the break. They look more likely to score than England at present.
Richards gives away a free-kick, charging in far too hard on the edge of Croatia's area.
Crouch is out and out target man now, and England are going long time and time again.
Joe Cole makes way for Darren Bent.
Olic slides to get to the ball at the byline and his cross would have found super-sub Petric had Lescott not stepped in.
Darren Bent is preparing to come on.
My word, this has been a sensational game of football. Twists and turns all over the place.
Carson saw that very late, but maybe should have done better. It was a fearsome strike however. So, England need another goal.
Goal! Petric scores! He shoots from the edge of the area and it is disaster again. England 2-3 Croatia.
Well done Beckham, robbing Petric of the ball and clearing firmly.
Engalnd are sitting a bit too deep now for my liking. Yes, they don't want to over commit, but inviting pressure isn't the way forward either.
Kranjcar is off to be replaced by Pranjic.
Things have toned down thankfully - please stay that way for the next 15 minutes. Sorry Croatia fans, I'm finsihed with being impartial!
It's back to all out war mode for England, flying in all over the place to close the visitors down.
A sustained spell of possession for Croatia, who still look lively themselves. Will they continue to be positive now?
Campbell won the header and Gerrard just failed to connect properly as a Croatia clearance fell to him.
The ref seems a bit caught up in the occasion, giving fouls for England left, right and centre. Beckham hovers over it again.
Lampard is lucky there to get a foul from Corluka after he tried to flick the ball away casually.
Petric is on for Eduardo, like for like.
Scott Carson can put his stomach back in now, he made a great stop just before the second goal.
It has to be said as well, McClaren's substitutions have made the difference. Defoe won the penalty, then Beckham floats over a perfect cross for Crouch to score. He's a visionary that man!!
Croatia hit back and England must hold their nerve now. Thankfully, Srna blasts one over from a tight angle.
What a goal that was! Unbelievable ball from Beckham, perfectly weighted and though Beckham may attract the headlines, that was a world-class finish from the much maligned Crouch.
GOAL!! Crouch!! Beckham's cross, Crouch chests down and volleys home. Amazing!!
The game has levelled out slighty now after that frenzied first 17 minutes. Now England need to channel their newly discovered adrenalin.
Wayne Bridge has got away with murder! He went to cut out a pass intended for Olic with his left foot instead of right and the winger fires in a shot which Carson saves well.
Uncharacteristic from Gerrard there, he had time to pick out a pass and had plenty of options, but slid it straight into the arms of Pletikosa.
Carson will feel much happier now after that wordl class save. He was mobbed by his team mates after and rightly so.
Sol Campbell gets across to tackle Srna after Modric looked to put him free down the left. Vital intervention.
What a second half so far! Both teams could have added to the one goal scored so far.
Carson has partially redeemed himself with an astonishing point blank save. It looked easier for Kovac to miss but he headed straight at the Villa man who makes a CRUCIAL save.
Croatia hit the bar! Wayne Bridge just gets there ahead of Olic and the ball hits the bar! A let-off for England.
Beckham fires in a free-kick, which is cleared, despite a wild cry of 'handball' from the crowd.
A great penalty from Lamprd, hard and low to the left. It was only a little pull of the shirt, but completely unecessary from the left back. England are revitalised.
Lampard scores! It's back on! England 1-2 Croatia.
A lifeline for England, Sminunic tugs Defoe's shirt faintly, and the linesman flags for a penalty.
The early signs for the Defoe Crouch partnership are not good. They look on different wavelengths.
Eduardo gets put through ahead of Campbell, Carson comes out, far too late, and makes the save. That could have been curtains.
Another Crouch flick, and another occasion where no England player is within ten yards of it.
Croatia break from the corner and Steven Gerrard makes a vital interception or else Srna was absolutely clear.
Its deflected behinf for a corner, Beckham rushes over to take it.
Now, Crouch wins a free-kick bang central 25 yards out. Beckham stands over it.
Eduardo gets carded for pulling down Micah Richards. He doesn't look remotely bothered and why should he.
Similar syndrome on show there, a ball up to Crouch, he wins the flick but no-one is in support. Why not? We're two down.
At least England look like they have purpose at the start of this half. A quality sadly lacking in the first 45 minutes.
A decent move by England finds Crouch who inexplicably tries a back heel on the edge of the area. Why oh why?
Beckham is involved early with two decent crosses. Joe Cole has fired into a 50-50 tackle and the crowd roar their appreciation.
The fans start with a lusty rendition of the national anthem. We're not out yet.
So, our nation's hopes rest on a half-fit David Beckham and a tiny striker who can't even get a regular start for his club side. I will gleefully chow down on my hat if they turn it around. We're away again.....
England's players left to a chorus of boos, and they are re-entering the field to a similar reception.
Beckham and Defoe are coming on for Barry and SWP. Let's hope it works.
That is half-time and a crescendo of boos ring out. Rightly so, England have been a shambles. A monumental turn around is required if we are to avoid a huge inquest into the very fabric of our national game.
Gerrard wastes a free-kick, which is criminal. As the ball is pumped back in Richards climbs to win the header but his flick is screwed wide.
Again Croatia threaten, this time Srna's cross flashes across the penalty spot. Lescott manages a last ditch intervention. One minute added, then we can put this sorry half for English football to bed.
Bridge then tries to find SWP with a flighted ball into the area, shame he is about three feet high.
Amazingly, Terry Venables is nowhere to be seen on the England bench. McClaren needs all the help he can get at this stage.
England nearly went three down there, Eduardo smashed one in from outside the area which Carson could only parry away feebly, and Kranjcar couldn't make use of the resulting situation.
Barry this time gives the ball away when well placed, fortunately Luka Modric - the Croatian wonderkid - fires horribly wide from 20 yards.
It gets worse for England, Sychev has scored for Russia in Andorra and unless things change, England are dead and buried.
Corluka intercepts well as Lampard looks to release Cole, then Gerrard dives outrageously on the box edge and gets a stern word in his ear from the referee.
Carson's first piece of work - apart from either throwing the ball or picking it out fo his net and he fluffs his clearance straight to Nico Kovac. Luckily, he is closed down quickly.
Sol Campbell fires a ball two yards wide of Lescott and the ball goes straight out for a throw in to howls of derision from a fraught Wembley.
Croatia break after another cross was cleared and for a minute had four v four at the back. Worrying times for the nation.
Just over ten minutes before the break, and England desperately need a break.
Crouch agains wins the aerial battle but he can't find Joe Cole. Crouch needs a partner up there with him. Soon.
Barry curls one in, Pletikosa punches and the danger is averted.
Robert Kovac gets a yellow card for hauling back a flying SWP. Free-kick.
England in possession look threatening, England without the ball look clueless, surrendering far too much space in midfield and not closing down fast enough.
Peter Crouch fires in another cross after SWP wins the ball, but there is no-one in the vicinity of the penalty area. This is woeful.
Pletikosa is taking the mickey now, claiming crosses one-handed. It'll be a while before Scott Carson begins doing that I feel.
Crouch climbs well to win a flilck on that perfectly eludes the last defender. Sadly, and befitting this system, there is no-one remotely close to try and make use of it. Oh for a fit Michael Owen.
Corluka breaks dangerously down the right hand side, his cross eventually hooked behind by Lescott.
This England system is baffling, despite having five in midfield Croatia are finding gaps and holes at will between midfield and defence.
Kranjcar meets a Srna cross but can't get the angle right, as England continue to look bewildered.
McClaren might have to dispense with his one up top policy quick smart. Crouch looks very isolated all of a sudden.
There is plenty of space for Croatia to stroke it around their back line, and they are doing so to wild cheers from their 6,500 fans. This is painful for England fans.
As it stands England would still qualify, seeing as Russia and Andorra are still level. Can't see it staying like that for long mind.
Croatia are happy to sit back now, as you'd expect, and probably will be content to for the remaining 70 minutes.
Poor free-kick by Gareth Barry buts he wins a corner.
Gerraed is playing the skipper's part, trying to lift his troops. He surges forward and wins a free-kick.
It's the Croatia fans who are audible now. England need a goal back before half time.
McClaren is downing water like it is going out of fashion. He's never been in fashion with the nation of course, but fail to get this point and it is surely all over for him as England boss.
We're all in a state of shock here at ESPN towers, as are 90,000 fans at Wembley. Unless something very dramatic happens, England will be nowhere near the Euro 2008 finals.
You just could not write a worse script for England. Wayne Bridge looked a yard behind the rest of the back four which meant Olic stayed just onside.
Goal! England 0-2 Croatia. Calamity. Eduardo slipped in Olic who beats a static back-line, rounds Carson and leaves England with a mountain to climb. Unbelievable.
Great move by England, super ball from SWP inside the defender to slip in Richards, he slided it across the face of goal but Simic just go there in front of Crouch.
Decent ball in from Brigde, but Crouch just can't collect it. Good response so far from England.
First real chance for England! Crouch found SWP in space but his shot was well saved. The ensuing pinball session in the box attracted handball claims by England but the ref waves play on.
A free-kick from Gerrard is claimed confidently by Pletikosa, in contrast to his counterpart at the other end.
The crowd are stunned. They aren't the only ones.
Oh no! England 0-1 Croatia. A howler by Scott Carson. Kranjcar hit one from 30 yards, it bounced just in front of him but flicked up off his hands and into the net. A devastating blow.
Anothe cross causes trouble, SWP stood it up for Crouch and his knock down oh-so-nearly found the onrushing Lampard. Good build-up play from England.
First effort on goal, a deep cross by Gerrard finds Joe Cole but his diving header lacked the pace to trouble Pletikosa.
The midfield three are snapping at heels very quickly, closing Croatia down immediately. SWP went on a mazy run then but was dispossessed by Simic.
Looks as if Cole and SWP are operating in a more advanced role, in a 4-3-3 formation. No holding back from the home side by the looks of it.
The ball is flying off this sodden turf, leaving SWP a bit wide to cross just then. The markings from the recent American Football game at Wembley are still visible also. Not good enouogh.
McClaren is standing on the touchline under a big FA umbrella as the rain teems down.
Right then, all the chatting stops here (apart from my ramblings of course). England need just a point. Here's hoping they can manage it.
Prince William is on hand shaking duty.
Here come the teams, into a spirited, if slightly damp, Wembley crowd.
The questionable pitch at Wembley won't be helped by persistent rain lingering over north London. Parts of it look comletely waterlogged. That might not lead to the spectacle we are all hoping for.
The Croatia side: Pletikosa, Corluka, Simic, Robert Kovac, Simunic, Srna, Modric, Nico Kovac, Kranjcar, Olic, Eduardo.
So, here are our men this evening: Scott Carson, Micah Richards, Wayne Bridge, Steven Gerrard, Joleon Lescott, Sol Campbell, Gareth Barry,
Frank Lampard, Peter Crouch, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole. As expected then, five in midfield, with the beanpole up front.
Mind you, that is an England without Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney. Enough to make everybody's nerves jingle-jangle like Terry Venables' gold plated jewellery in a stiff breeze. The team news is in....and Beckham is on the bench. Paul Robinson meanwhile, isn't even in the squad. Bold decision making for a change from the boss.
So, here we go. Again. Welcome to Judgement Day for England and Steve McClaren: Part 12. Whatever has gone before is irrelevant. Forget about that nightmare on the snooker table in Moscow, blank all memories of the the rampant England that ravaged Russia at Wembley, for it all comes down to this. Surely England can get the point they need to qualify for Euro 2008 against a team who have already booked their place. Can't they?!