Israel’s heroics against Russia meant that Steve McClaren’s side only needed a point against Slaven Bilic’s side who had already booked their place at Euro 2008.
The heavens opened at Wembley as McClaren’s was forced to name a make-shift eleven after injuries and suspensions robbed him of first choice regulars Paul Robinson, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, and Wayne Rooney. Michael Owen was also missing having fired England to victory over Russia in a vital qualifier two months earlier.
Scott Carson was handed his full debut, picked ahead of David James, and was at fault for the opening goal as he shovelled a long-range Niko Kranjcar effort into the net behind him after just eight minutes.
Only a few minutes later and an incisive Croatian counter-attack ended with Ivica Olic, played onside by Shaun Wright-Phillips, round Carson before sliding into the empty net.
Time after time England’s shaky backline were exposed by the running power of lone striker Eduardo, but McClaren acted decisively at half-time, hauling off Garth Barry and Wright-Phillips for Jermain Defoe and David Beckham as the home side switched to a straight 4-4-2 formation.
The move paid dividends as England were awarded a penalty, with Defoe softly adjudged to have been pulled back. Frank Lampard slammed the ball home from the spot.
Midway through the second-half and England were level and once more on track for qualification as Beckham crossed expertly from the right for Crouch to pull the ball down between two defenders and rifle into the net.
By this time McClaren’s umbrella had made its appearance on the touchline and the rain-sheltering apparatus became infamous when, with thirteen minutes left on the clock, Croatia substitute Mladen Petric shot from the edge of the box across Carson into the far corner of the net.
McClaren was defiant in defeat but was sacked the next day. Croatia went on to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2008.