Croatia defeats Morocco in match for third place in the World Cup


Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the third place playoff on Saturday when the historic 2022 World Cup for the African team ended in defeat.

It took Croatia just seven minutes to open the scoring through Joško Gvardiol’s header, before Achraf Dari equalized two minutes later.

In an open and exciting game, Croatia regained the lead thanks to a brilliant finish from Mislav Oršić on the stroke of half-time.

Despite their best efforts, Morocco could not find another tie, finishing the tournament in fourth place to cap off a memorable few weeks in Qatar, where Morocco became the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Croatia’s third place is their second in a World Cup, having finished third in 1998. In Russia four years ago, Croatia were runners-up.

After the match, Croatian head coach Zlatko Dalić said that his team’s achievement is not lost on him.

“I am proud of my team and my country. For us, bronze is a gold medal,” Dalić told BeIN Sports, according to FIFA. “We played a very tough tournament.

“Also, I want to congratulate Morocco: they played well, they did a fantastic job. I’m really proud, very happy. Maybe Croatia was not expected to do something big again, but we are a small country with big dreams and congratulations to all. We wanted to go home as winners and not losers.”

When asked about Croatia’s talismanic captain Luka Modrić, whose future with the national team remains a question mark at the 37-year-old, Dalić was full of praise, hoping he would return for the Euro 2024 campaign. of the team.

“Modrić is our captain, he is our great voice and he also played fantastically this tournament. He is 37 years old but played for a maximum of 25 years. He is our leader and everyone follows him.

Mislav Oršić celebrates after scoring against Morocco.

It’s the game in the World Cup that most teams often don’t want to play.

Just days after losing in the semifinals, the teams must play again even though hopes of a tournament win are fresh in their minds.

But for two of the surprise stories of this tournament, Croatia and Morocco, the drive to finish with a victory was evident from minute one.

Morocco wanted to cap their historic run in style, while Croatia looked to consolidate their second third-place finish in six World Cup appearances.

From the beginning, defense was a prize. Having achieved a goalless draw earlier in the tournament, within the first 10 minutes at the Khalifa International Stadium, both teams found the back of the net.

First of all, the young Croatian defender, Gvardiol, put his team ahead in the seventh minute after a superbly worked free kick. Ivan Perišić headed back the clipped ball into the box for the 20-year-old to put his team ahead.

However, just two minutes later Morocco were level, the goal coming from another free kick. After the ball went into the box via a deflection, Dari was the lucky beneficiary when he headed in with no Croatian marker nearby.

Dari scores for Morocco against Croatia.

And play continued at a breakneck pace, with Croatia enjoying the majority of possession and chances.

With the Morocco supporters once again providing a fantastic atmosphere, chances came and went in a throbbing fashion: Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri’s header from a corner narrowly missed.

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

After some rudimentary play on the edge of the Moroccan box, a beautiful curling shot to the post from Oršić put the European nation back in front.

After the break, the chances kept flowing, but neither team had any real scoring chances.

On the hour mark, Andrej Kramarić was forced to withdraw with injury, with the 31-year-old in tears as he was helped off the field.

Kramarić leaves the pitch with the medical team during the match against Morocco.

With 15 minutes remaining, Croatia thought they had a penalty when Gvardiol was brought down in the Morocco box after a wonderful run. However, the video assistant referee (VAR) did not consider a foul, much to the astonishment of the Croatian players, despite the fact that it appeared that Sofyan Amrabat had stepped on the defender’s heels.

In the closing minutes, despite Morocco needing a goal, it was actually Croatia that seemed most likely to score, with Mateo Kovačić closing in the closest.

But, almost with the final shot of the match, En-Nesyri’s imposing header flew over the bar as Morocco’s hopes of equalizing were dashed.

In the end, Croatia was able to hold on for the narrow victory to equal the achievement of the nation’s so-called “bronze generation” in 1998.

For Morocco, their magical few weeks in Qatar are drawing to a close, having won the hearts and minds of an entire continent with their trailblazing run to the World Cup final four.

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