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Croatia beat Morocco to clinch World Cup Bronze

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Croatia players celebrate after beating Morocco
Croatia players celebrate after beating Morocco

Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the 2022 FIFA World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday, at the Khalifa International Stadium to leave Doha, Qatar on a high after the European side failed to reach a second consecutive final. Mislav Orsic’s late first-half strike was enough to settle the contest after two early goals inside the first nine minutes set the tone for a pulsating encounter, Achraf Dari cancelling out Josko Gvardiol’s opener for Croatia.

There were signs of nerves from Morocco early on with goalkeeper Yassine Bounou nearly scything a clearance into his own goal in just the third minute.

Moroccan fans have turned up in massive numbers to support their team in Qatar and Saturday was no different as they jeered the Croatian players whenever they had possession, their whistles echoing inside the packed Khalifa International Stadium.

That did not deter Croatia, however, which started the game on the front foot and took the lead in the seventh minute through a cleverly worked set-piece.

A cross floated into the box found Ivan Perisic, who expertly headed the ball into the mix, where the masked Gvardiol bravely dived in for the header to silence the Moroccan contingent, albeit briefly. Two minutes later, Morocco responded at the other end with a set piece of their own when a cross came off Lovro Majer’s head and looped into the box, where an unmarked Dari beat keeper Dominik Livakovic with a header.

Emboldened by the equaliser, Morocco began to find chinks in the Croatian defence, with their movement and passing helping to create several chances. But the African side lacked the killer instinct in front of the goal. Croatia duly punished Morocco in the 42nd minute when an interception in the final third found Orsic, whose curling shot arched beautifully from a tight angle past the outstretched arm of Yassine Bounou before going in off the post.

The second half was not as fast or feisty as the first as exhaustion after a long tournament seemed to have caught up with both teams, playing their seventh game in Qatar. Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric even left the pitch in tears with what looked like a thigh injury while goal scorer Dari also hobbled off having opted to continue playing after the restart despite struggling at the end of the first half.

By the 67th minute, Morocco had made all five of its substitutions. With Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd benched, Jawad El Yamiq became their fourth centre-back to bid the tournament goodbye when he came off. (C.D)

Monday, December 19, 2022 – 01:00











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