Croatia defeats Morocco in the World Cup third-place match | CNN


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

Croatia needed just seven minutes to open the scoring with a header from Yusko Gvardiol, before Esref Dari equalized two minutes later.

In an open and exciting match, Croatia regained the lead through a fine finish from Mislav Oršić on the stroke of half time.

Despite their best efforts, Morocco could not find an equaliser again, finishing the tournament in fourth place to cap off a memorable few weeks in Qatar as Morocco became the first African country to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Croatia finished third in the World Cup finals, after finishing third in 1998. In Russia four years ago Croatia was runner-up.

After the match, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said that his team’s achievement was not lost on him.

“I am proud of my team and my country. For us, the bronze is a gold medal,” Dalic told BN Sports, on FIFA. “We played a very tough tournament.

“Also, I would like to congratulate Morocco – they played well, they did a great job. I’m really proud, very happy. Croatia probably wasn’t expected to do something big again, but we are a small country with big dreams and congratulations to everyone. We wanted to go home.” As a winner, not a loser.”

When asked about Croatia captain Luka Modric – whose future with the national team at the age of 37 remains a question mark – Dalic was full of praise, hoping he’d return for Euro 2024.

“Modric is our captain, he’s our big voice and he’s played great this tournament too. He’s 37 but he’s played like 25 max. He’s our captain and everyone follows him.”

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

Just days after losing in the semifinals, the teams must play again despite hopes that a tournament victory may have been dashed in their minds.

But in two of the stories of this surprising tournament – Croatia and Morocco – the drive to finish winning was evident from the first minute.

Morocco wanted to end their historic run in style, while Croatia were looking to consolidate their third-place finish at six-time World Cup finals.

From the start, the defense was the best. After the two teams were held to a goalless draw earlier in the tournament, within the first ten minutes at Khalifa International Stadium, both teams managed to find the net.

Firstly, young Croatian defender Gvardiol put his team ahead in the seventh minute after a brilliant free kick. The ball was clipped in the area, headed backwards by Ivan Perisic for the 20-year-old to strengthen his side up front.

However, just two minutes later, Morocco were level, the goal coming from another free kick. After the ball was swept into the area via a deflection, Dury was the lucky benefactor with a header with no Croatian mark in his vicinity.

Dari scores for Morocco against Croatia.

The match continued at a heated pace, with Croatia taking the majority of the possession and chances.

With the Morocco fans once again providing a great atmosphere, chances came and went in colorful fashion – Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesiri’s header from a corner kick drifted just wide of the goal.

But with a magical moment, Croatia took the lead again, but this time with a kick at half-time.

After some sluggish play on the edge of the Moroccan penalty area, Ursic curled a beautifully off the post from Ursic, putting the European nation ahead once again.

After the break, chances continued to pour in but neither side created any real goal-scoring chances.

After the hour mark, Andrej Kramaric was forced off the field with an injury, and the 31-year-old was in tears as he was helped off the field.

Kramaric leaves the field with the medical team during the match against Morocco.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Croatia thought they had a penalty when Gvarddiol was brought down in the Moroccan penalty area after a great run. However, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) deemed it not a foul, much to the bewilderment of the Croatia players, even though it looked as if Sofiane Amrabat had cut the defender’s heel.

In the final few minutes, despite Morocco needing a goal, Croatia looked the most likely to score, with Mateo Kovacic closing in.

But as the final kick of the game approached, Nassiri’s towering header flew just over the bar as Morocco’s hopes of an equalizer were dashed.

In the end, Croatia managed to hold on for the narrow victory to match the feat achieved by the country’s so-called “Bronze Generation” in 1998.

For Morocco, its magical few weeks come to an end in Qatar, after capturing the hearts and minds of an entire continent with its impressive run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

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