Jadon Sancho’s late cameo livens up England’s goalless and soulless night | Dominic Fifield

The Borussia Dortmund teenager was on the pitch for only 12 minutes but was one of the positives for Gareth Southgate to take from a dour game in Croatia

None of this felt real, from the awkward silence as the teams lined up prior to kick-off, to Jordan Pickford’s barked instructions or his teammates’ curses, which bounced around the empty stands, or even the faint hint of support from the handful of England fans who had defied Uefa and surveyed the scene from the treeline on wasteland above the arena. Those distant chants were echoes of what a football match should really sound like.

It must have been tempting for some of the more experienced in the visitors’ ranks to put an arm round Ben Chilwell or Jadon Sancho, the young debutant whose late cameo had been so fearless, and reassure them it is not usually like this. That life at senior international level is not normally played out to the unnerving hush of a development or youth game. The Estadio Benito Villamarín in Seville on Monday will be a bear pit in comparison. And yet in the kind of atmosphere far more akin to a training game, England had offered a glimpse of evolution.

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