NEWS Croatia beat Morocco in World Cup playoffs

Croatia beat Morocco in World Cup playoffs


Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the third-place play-off on Saturday, ending the African side’s historic 2022 World Cup campaign in defeat.

It took Croatia just seven minutes to score through a header from Joško Gvardiol before Achraf Dari equalized two minutes later.

In an open and exciting game, Croatia regained the lead at half-time with a superb goal from Mislav Orsic.

Despite their best efforts, Morocco couldn’t find another chance to equalize and ended up finishing fourth, capping off a memorable weeks in Qatar as Morocco became the first World Cup semi-finalist African countries.

Croatia finished third at the World Cup for the second time after finishing third in 1998. Four years ago, Croatia finished runners-up in Russia.

After the game, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said he had not forgotten the team’s achievements.

“I’m proud of my team and my country. For us, bronze is gold,” Dalic told BeIN Sports per FIFA. “We played a very difficult game.

“Also, I want to congratulate Morocco – they’re playing well, they’re doing well. Really proud, happy. Maybe didn’t expect Croatia to do big things again, but we’re a small country with big dreams, congratulations . We want to go home as winners, not losers.”

Asked about Croatia’s talismanic captain Luka Modric – whose future with the national team remains a question mark at 37 – Dalic was full of praise and hopes he will return to the squad for 2024 year European Cup.

“Modric is our captain, he’s our big voice and he’s done really well in this tournament. He’s 37 years old but he’s playing like a 25-year-old max. He’s our leader , and everyone followed him.”

It’s a tournament most teams in the World Cup usually don’t want to play.

Days after their semi-final defeat, the team had to play again, although their hopes of a championship victory were dashed.

But for the two surprising stories of the tournament – Croatia and Morocco – it was clear from the first minute that it ended in victory.

Morocco will look to end their historic run in style, while Croatia will look to cement their second third-place finish in six World Cup appearances.

Defense has been important from the start. Both sides scored in the first 10 minutes at the Khalifa International Stadium after a goalless draw earlier in the tournament.

First, Croatia’s star young defender Gvardiol gave his team the lead in the 7th minute with a superb free kick. Ivan Perisic headed the ball back inside the box and the 20-year-old provided momentum.

However, just two minutes later, Morocco equalized with another free-kick. After the ball deflected into the area, Dari was the lucky beneficiary who headed home without the Croatian marking.

Dari scored for Morocco against Croatia.

The game continued with Croatia taking most of the possession and chances.

Once again the Moroccan fans created a fantastic atmosphere as chances came and went – Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesyri’s header from a corner went just wide.

But with a moment of magic, Croatia took the lead again, this time just before half-time.

After some scrappy play on the edge of the Moroccan box, Orsic’s brilliant curling finish put the European nation ahead again.

Chances continued to flow after the break, but neither side created any real chances to score.

Andrei Kramaric was forced off with an injury at the hour mark and the 31-year-old was in tears as he was helped off.

Kramaric left the field with the medical team during the game against Morocco.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Croatia thought it was a penalty when Gwadior was brought down after a brilliant run in the Moroccan penalty area. However, to the Croatian players’ surprise, the video assistant referee (VAR) did not consider it a foul, although it appeared that Sofyan Amrabat had stepped on the defender’s heel.

In the closing minutes, although Morocco needed to score, it was Croatia who actually looked more likely to score, with Mateo Kovacic coming closest.

But Morocco’s hopes of an equalizer were dashed when En-Nesyri’s towering header flew over the bar almost on the last kick of the game.

In the end, Croatia was able to narrowly secure the victory, matching what the country’s so-called “Bronze Generation” achieved in 1998.

It ended a magical few weeks in Qatar for Morocco, which captivated the continent with a trailblazing run to the World Cup semi-finals.

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