Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 within the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday to go away Qatar on a excessive after the European aspect failed to succeed in a second consecutive remaining.
Mislav Orsic’s late first-half strike was sufficient to settle the competition after two early objectives inside the primary 9 minutes set the tone for a pulsating encounter, Achraf Dari cancelling out Josko Gvardiol’s opener for Croatia.
A bronze medal could have served as nothing greater than comfort after either side endured disappointment within the semi-finals, however Croatia and Morocco regarded wanting to make amends after shedding to Argentina and France respectively.
Moroccan followers have turned up in large numbers to help their crew in Qatar and Saturday was no totally different as they jeered the Croatian gamers at any time when that they had possession, their whistles echoing contained in the packed Khalifa Worldwide Stadium.
That didn’t deter Croatia, nonetheless, who began the sport on the entrance foot and took the lead within the seventh minute by a cleverly labored set-piece.
A cross floated into the field discovered Ivan Perisic who expertly headed the ball into the combo the place the masked Gvardiol bravely dived in for the header to silence the Moroccan contingent, albeit briefly.
Two minutes later, Morocco responded on the different finish with a set piece of their very own when a cross got here off Lovro Majer’s head and looped into the field the place an unmarked Dari beat the keeper with a header.
Emboldened by the equalizer, Morocco started to seek out chinks within the Croatian defence, with their motion and passing serving to to create a number of possibilities. However the African aspect lacked the killer intuition in entrance of objective.
Croatia duly punished them within the forty second minute when an interception within the remaining third discovered Orsic, whose curling shot arched fantastically from a decent angle previous the outstretched arm of Yassine Bounou earlier than stepping into off the submit.
The second half was not as quick or feisty as the primary as exhaustion after an extended match appeared to have caught up with each groups, taking part in their seventh sport in Qatar.
Croatia additionally felt exhausting finished by when Gvardiol regarded to have been tripped within the field by Sofyan Amrabat – now taking part in in defence with their centre backs injured – however the referee refused to award a penalty.
Youssef En-Nesyri got here shut when he headed over in stoppage time however regardless of Morocco’s greatest efforts to seek out an equalizer, Croatia held on for victory and the bronze, matching the feat of their heroes from 1998 who additionally completed third.