World Cup: Croatia defeats underdog Morocco in third-place match

Croatia’s “Golden Generation” is heading residence from its remaining World Cup with a bronze medal and a barely bigger reduce of the World Cup prize cash after beating Morocco 2-1 in Saturday’s third-place sport. And fittingly Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic, the core of a staff that reached the semifinals of the final world championships, performed a task in Croatia’s remaining World Cup win.

The World Cup’s comfort remaining is commonly a wide-open, entertaining affair and Saturday’s was no totally different, with the groups buying and selling early targets lower than two minutes aside. Croatia struck first, behind Modric and Perisic, on a well-designed play that started with a Modric free kick towards the close to submit within the seventh minute. Perisic peeled away from his defender to go the ball again into the middle of a field the place a diving Josko Gvardiol nodded it in to turn out to be, at 20, the youngest participant to attain for Croatia in a World Cup.

The purpose was the earliest Croatia has scored on this match whereas the help gave Perisic a hand in his eleventh World Cup purpose since 2014. Solely Argentina’s Lionel Messi has been concerned in additional. And solely Messi has performed in as many World Cup video games over that span as Modric, 37, and Perisic, 33, who had been beginning for the seventeenth time.

Croatia’s lead didn’t final lengthy although, with Hakim Ziyech looping a poorly positioned free kick of his personal towards the penalty space the place Croatia’s Lovro Majer errantly bumped it excessive into the air within the path of the six-yard field. An alert Achraf Dari ran onto the tip of it there, sending a one-bounce header into the purpose.

Croatia went again in entrance to remain simply three minutes earlier than the break after Morocco proved unable to clear the ball of its personal penalty space. Majer received the ball again simply outdoors the field and despatched it towards the left fringe of the world for Mislav Orsic, who curled a right-footed shot simply over the outstretched proper hand of Moroccan goalie Yassine Bounou and in off the far submit.

That marked the second time in as many video games that Morocco surrendered a number of targets after conceding solely an personal purpose in its first 5 video games right here. However the nation’s giant and tireless red-clad fan base, whose incessant whistling and choreographed cheering grew to become an enormous a part of the soundtrack of this World Cup, by no means quieted. One couple excessive within the west grandstands even obtained engaged early within the first half.

Morocco coach Walid Regragui had promised to search out time Saturday for gamers who hadn’t appeared in his staff’s first six video games and he delivered by beginning 18-year-old midfielder Bilal El Khannouss, making him the youngest participant to make his World Cup debut within the knockout rounds, then sending midfielder Ilias Chair on in the beginning of the second half. Ahead Anass Zaroury made his World Cup debut lower than 20 minutes later, coming in with defender Badr Benoun, who had performed 27 minutes in Qatar earlier than Saturday.

The one Moroccan who by no means noticed the sphere within the match was Ahmed Pink Tagnaouti, the third-choice goalkeeper.

Morocco, which made historical past within the first Arab World Cup by changing into the primary African and first Arab nation to succeed in the semifinals, practically tied the sport within the seventy fifth minute when a poor clearance from Gvardiol dropped to En-Nesyri on the proper submit. However his shot off the half-volley was stopped in spectacular vogue by Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic.