Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the third-place playoff on Saturday as the African side’s historic 2022 World Cup ended in defeat.
It took Croatia just seven minutes to open the scoring through a header from Joško Gvardiol, before Achraf Dari equalized two minutes later.
In an open and exciting game, Croatia retook the lead through a brilliant finish from Mislav Oršić on the stroke of half-time.
Despite its best efforts, Morocco could not find another equalizer, 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 semifinals.
Croatia’s third-placed finish is its second at a World Cup, having finished third in 1998. In Russia four years ago Croatia was runner up.Just days after losing in the semifinals, teams must play again despite hopes of a tournament victory being dashed fresh in their minds.But for two of this tournament’s surprise stories – Croatia and Morocco – the drive to finish with a victory was evident from minute one.
Morocco wanted to cap its historic run in style, while Croatia was looking to cement its second third-place finish in six World Cup appearances.From the outset, defending was at a premium. Having played out a goalless draw earlier in the tournament, within the first 10 minutes at the Khalifa International Stadium both sides had found the back of the net.
First, Croatia’s star young defender, Gvardiol, put his side ahead in the seventh minute after a superbly worked free kick. The clipped ball into the area was headed backwards by Ivan Perišić for the 20-year-old to power his side ahead.
However, only two minutes later, Morocco was level, the goal coming from another free kick. After the ball was looped into the area via a deflection, Dari was the lucky beneficiary as he headed home with no Croatian marker in his vicinity.