Gareth Southgate rued a missed opportunity after England’s strikers were silenced in an eerily empty stadium.
Captain Harry Kane crashed a header against the crossbar in his sixth consecutive international without a goal, while Marcus Rashford wasted two gilt-edged chances against Croatia behind closed doors here in Rejika.
Southgate’s men should have taken all three points in Friday’s Nations League rematch with their summer World Cup semi-final conquerors.
The England boss said: “It feels like a game we should have won. The performance deserved that. We’re disappointed not to have won, but I have to focus on the way we played. Tonight, we played well.
“The most important thing for the team is we create chances, look dangerous, and the players who didn’t score tonight will score. Harry had a chance he buried from just offside. Harry will get us goals.
“We were a real threat. They had one reasonable chance second half, but we dictated the flow of the game for a long period and the second half performance was excellent, pushing right to the end. I couldn’t ask more from the players.
“We just have to make sure we finish the chances. On another day, we will.”
Southgate admitted he sympathised with the England fans stranded up on a hill above the stadium as they chanted and made themselves heard despite Croatia’s stadium ban.
But he praised his players for the way they coped with the lack of atmosphere, saying: “They’re hugely proud to play in the shirt. We talked just before the game… not an easy pitch, either, especially in that final third with people slipping with their footing.
“The ball bouncing up at the wrong moment. But good teams adapt. Good teams, whatever the circumstances or the atmosphere or the pitch, find a way of playing. I was pleased the players did that tonight.
“I could hear noise. It is a shame for the supporters, particularly some who have not missed a game for 10 years or more. We totally understand why that has happened, and just have to hope it’s not a situation neither I nor Croatia have to endure again.”
Southgate will be without Jordan Henderson and John Stones after they picked up yellow cards and will miss the trip to Spain for Monday’s next Nations League match.
He added: “It doesn’t make life any easier, but it’s opportunities for other players.
“It’ll be a really good test for us in Seville, with thousands of fans there. These players give absolutely everything. I could never question their commitment or intensity of their game.”