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Croatia finishes third at Qatar 2022, 2-1 victory over Morocco



Croatia players celebrating their victory AFP

Croatia secured their victory over Morocco 2-1 to secure the third-place playoff of the World Cup on Saturday, December 17th, as Mislav Orsic put the match in the bag with a brilliant bending strike that turned into a goal. 

Josko Gvardiol put Morocco at a disadvantage with a superb header in the seventh minute which entered the net but Achraf Dari equalised two minutes later before Orsic sealed victory for the 2018 runners-up, Croatia.

Orsic’s terrific curling strike later in the first half ensured Croatia took home the bronze medal, making it the 11th World Cup in a row a European team has finished third.

Morocco, had earlier made history as the first African country to make it to the World Cup semi-finals and they had signalled their intent of being amongst the top three  with a spirited display against 2018 runners-up Croatia, in their opening game in Qatar.

The rematch was nothing like the cagey 0-0 draw in the group stage, with Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou dangerously close to passing the ball into his own net early on.

Croatia surged forward from a well-rehearsed free-kick as Ivan Perisic nodded Lovro Majer’s clip into the box back towards a diving Gvardiol, who planted his header into the corner.

But Morocco hit back two minutes later when Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick looped up off the head of Majer, allowing Dari to head past Dominik Livakovic.

Andrej Kramaric headed straight at Bounou, who then did well to scoop the ball to safety as Marko Livaja closed in after spilling a drive from Luka Modric.

Orsic curled in brilliantly via the post from the corner of the box to put Croatia back on top before half-time after 18-year-old Morocco debutant Bilal El Khannouss lost the ball deep in his half.

Orsic again went close moments after the halftime break , his goalbound effort brushing Jawad El Yamiq and narrowly missing the post.

Croatia were furious when Gvardiol tumbled inside the area when his foot appeared to be caught by Sofyan Amrabat, but there was no VAR review to clear their doubts.

It could have proved a match-changing moment had Youssef En-Nesyri found a way past Livakovic, who spread himself superbly to block the striker from a close range shot.

Mateo Kovacic put wide with the chance to put the game beyond doubt. Morocco had a late penalty appeal turned down and En-Nesyri headed just over but the Atlas Lions could not find a way back after their historic run.

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