'We can't play like that vs Croatia'


England face Croatia in a crunch Nations League game on Sunday live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 16/11/18 12:15am

Gareth Southgate has issued a warning to his England side

Gareth Southgate has issued a warning to his England side

Gareth Southgate has warned England they will lose their crucial Nations League match against Croatia if they repeat their patchy performance against the USA.

England were 3-0 winners against their opponents on Thursday, which marked Wayne Rooney’s final appearance for the national team.

In Group A4, Croatia were 3-2 winners against Spain and face England at Wembley on Sunday – live on Sky Sports – with both sides fighting for qualification and to avoid relegation to the B league.

Southgate has told his side they need to improve over the next few days, saying: “I didn’t like us without the ball as much. At times we pressed really well, but at times they got through us too easily.

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Highlights from England’s 3-0 friendly win against USA which saw Wayne Rooney win his 120th and final cap

Highlights from England’s 3-0 friendly win against USA which saw Wayne Rooney win his 120th and final cap

“At the end we didn’t play with discipline, we were caught in transition and we were wide open. If we do that on Sunday, we will lose.

“We haven’t had that discussion because Wayne gave a really nice speech at the end of the game and I didn’t want to rain on his parade but I will be making that point clear over the next couple of days

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“If we want to be a top team, we cannot just get to 3-0 and play with the ball and not without it and not play with intelligence. If we’re going to ruthless we have to do that right the way through the game.

“Croatia have shown not only their quality but their resilience to win [against Spain] in the 93rd minute. It’s brilliant, it sets up a really good finish to the year here [at Wembley]. I think it was already a sell-out crowd and it’s a game with plenty riding on it, which is the sort of test we want.”

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Highlights of the Nations League group A4 match between Croatia and Spain

Highlights of the Nations League group A4 match between Croatia and Spain

England suffered defeat in their World Cup semi-final with Croatia over the summer while the two sides played out a 0-0 draw last month, and Southgate wants his team to look forward to the challenge.

“We’ve got two days to prepare,” he added. “That was one of the reasons we played the team we did tonight. We will look at their game from tonight just to see how they approached it against Spain but we know pretty much all there is to know about Croatia.

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“Their desire and mentality is brilliant and we know tonight will have given them a huge boost. They will look forward to coming to Wembley. We know the game at home to them without a crowd was as difficult for them as it was for us.

“But coming to a full house at Wembley they will have big players that will relish that challenge. We have to relish that as well.”

Watch England v Croatia live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event from 1pm on Sunday.

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