Rayyan: Strikes from Josko Gvardiol and Mislav Orsic helped Croatia clinch third place in the ongoing FIFA World Cup as they defeated a valiant Morocco 2-1 at Al Rayyan in Qatar on Saturday.
Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou almost scored an own goal at the beginning of the match for the third position but the ball went for a corner.
Croatia took the lead in the seventh minute, courtesy a superb header from Josko Gvardiol.
The first African team to reach the World Cup semis made things equal in the ninth minute itself, as Achraf Dari headed past Livakovic from close range after a free-kick by Ziyech, thrown high in the air by Croatia’s Lovro Majer, found him.
The scoreline read 1-1 after nine minutes. Luka Modric almost handed Croatia the lead in the 24th minute but goalkeeper Bounou shoveled the ball away before recovering to prevent Marko Livaja from a rebound.
Morocco also made a chance in the 29th minute. Achraf Hakimi’s cross evaded the head of Youssef En-Nesyri and it was the second missed opportunity in the five minutes to score.
In the 37th minute, Ziyech’s corner was flicked on at the front post by Youssef, but to no avail as his header flashed wide past the goal. A 42nd-minute strike from Mislav Orsic put Croatia back in the lead. At half-time, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of Croatia.
After the resumption of the play, it was Orsic again who threatened to double the lead but his shot deflected and hit the side netting.
In the 52nd minute, Ivan Perisic used his strength and body to see out a run into his team’s box from Youssef En-Nesyri.
Azzedine Ounahi was the first player from either side to get a yellow card. He got it in the 69th minute for committing a foul on Luka Modric.
Nikola Vlasic almost scored for Croatia in the 71st minute. Morocco’s Sofyan Amrabat lost possession and Vlasic wasted no time in pouncing on it and unleashing a right-footed shot that landed too wide of the target.
En-Nesyri tried to score six yards away from goal in the 75th minute, but his shot was saved brilliantly by Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
At the end of 90 minutes and six additional minutes of play, the scoreline remained 2-1. Croatia had lost to France in the final in the last FIFA World Cup.