Africa Union

Morocco end remarkable World Cup run in fourth place

Croatia showed their class once more by clinching their third top-three finish at the World Cup with a play-off victory over history-makers Morocco.

Zlatko Dalic's side were runners-up to France four years ago and confirmed their status as one of the elite footballing nations with another third-place finish to go alongside that secured in their competition debut in 1998.

In a frantic opening, Josko Gvardiol gave Croatia the lead on seven minutes with a superb diving header but Achraf Dari levelled just two minutes later by nodding home from close range.

Mislav Orsic curled in a sumptuous second for Croatia via the post three minutes before half-time and struck a thumping, deflected drive into the side-netting after the break.

The second half could not match the energy of a thrilling opening period and Morocco failed to find an equaliser as a fruitful campaign ended in back-to-back defeats.

Modric makes Croatia tick again

It's the game no team wants to be involved in but in the end Croatia, a country with a population under 4 million, will be highly satisfied with another outstanding showing on the global stage.

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At the heart of the team is influential skipper Luka Modric, running the show once again at the age of 37 on his 162nd cap, though this could well be his last appearance at a World Cup.

Croatia's opener was straight off the training ground, Ivan Perisic flicking on a free-kick which was latched on to by Gvardiol's brilliant finish, flying through the air to head into the far corner.

But Morocco levelled immediately courtesy of Dari, a looping ball falling into his path to convert from a few yards out and spark rowdy celebrations in the stands.

Teenage midfielder Bilal El Khannouss, making his Morocco debut at 18, showed confident touches but was culpable for Croatia's second goal, giving the ball away deep in his own half and ultimately handing over victory.

Marko Livaja laid the ball off for Orsic, who curled a glorious first time finish past the despairing reach of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and into the net via the post.

Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri had Morocco's best chances for an equaliser, forcing knockout round penalty hero Dominik Livakovic into a sharp save from close range and heading on to the roof of the net in injury time.

Walid Regragui's men made history by becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals and their passionate players and supporters have lit up this tournament.

Their following sang and banged their drum for the entirety of this game and, despite being beaten in the last four by defending champions France and here by Croatia, they will look back on their achievements at this tournament with fond memories.

Player of the match

ModricLuka Modric

with an average of 8.05

Croatia

  1. Squad number10Player nameModricAverage rating

    8.05

  2. Squad number4Player namePerisicAverage rating

    7.67

  3. Squad number20Player nameGvardiolAverage rating

    7.63

  4. Squad number8Player nameKovacicAverage rating

    7.45

  5. Squad number18Player nameOrsicAverage rating

    7.40

  6. Squad number1Player nameLivakovicAverage rating

    6.97

  7. Squad number24Player nameSutaloAverage rating

    6.90

  8. Squad number7Player nameMajerAverage rating

    6.85

  9. Squad number13Player nameVlasicAverage rating

    6.82

  10. Squad number14Player nameLivajaAverage rating

    6.77

  11. Squad number2Player nameStanisicAverage rating

    6.76

  12. Squad number9Player nameKramaricAverage rating

    6.65

  13. Squad number26Player nameJakicAverage rating

    6.61

  14. Squad number16Player namePetkovicAverage rating

    6.57

  15. Squad number15Player namePasalicAverage rating

    6.44

Morocco

  1. Squad number7Player nameZiyechAverage rating

    7.70

  2. Squad number4Player nameS AmrabatAverage rating

    7.68

  3. Squad number2Player nameHakimiAverage rating

    7.60

  4. Squad number17Player nameBoufalAverage rating

    7.58

  5. Squad number19Player nameEn-NesyriAverage rating

    7.41

  6. Squad number11Player nameSabiriAverage rating

    7.33

  7. Squad number1Player nameBonoAverage rating

    7.33

  8. Squad number25Player nameAttiat-AllahAverage rating

    7.29

  9. Squad number20Player nameDariAverage rating

    7.24

  10. Squad number13Player nameChairAverage rating

    7.20

  11. Squad number23Player nameEl KhannoussAverage rating

    7.16

  12. Squad number18Player nameEl YamiqAverage rating

    7.12

  13. Squad number10Player nameZarouryAverage rating

    7.09

  14. Squad number8Player nameOunahiAverage rating

    7.08

  15. Squad number24Player nameBenounAverage rating

    6.74

  16. Squad number15Player nameAmallahAverage rating

    6.67

Line-ups

Croatia

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Livakovic

2Stanisic24Sutalo20Gvardiol4Perisic

10Modric8Kovacic

7Majer9Kramaric18Orsic

14Livaja

  • 1Livakovic
  • 2Stanisic
  • 24Sutalo
  • 20Gvardiol
  • 4Perisic
  • 10Modric
  • 8Kovacic
  • 7MajerSubstituted forPasalicat 66'minutes
  • 9KramaricSubstituted forVlasicat 61'minutes
  • 18OrsicSubstituted forJakicat 90+5'minutes
  • 14LivajaSubstituted forPetkovicat 66'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Barisic
  • 5Erlic
  • 6Lovren
  • 11Brozovic
  • 12Grbic
  • 13Vlasic
  • 15Pasalic
  • 16Petkovic
  • 17Budimir
  • 19Sosa
  • 21Vida
  • 22Juranovic
  • 23Ivusic
  • 25Sucic
  • 26Jakic

Morocco

Formation 4-3-3

1Bono

2Hakimi18El Yamiq20Dari25Attiat-Allah

23El Khannouss4S Amrabat11Sabiri

7Ziyech19En-Nesyri17Boufal

  • 1Bono
  • 2Hakimi
  • 18El YamiqSubstituted forAmallahat 67'minutesBooked at 84mins
  • 20DariSubstituted forBenounat 64'minutes
  • 25Attiat-Allah
  • 23El KhannoussSubstituted forOunahiat 56'minutesBooked at 69mins
  • 4S Amrabat
  • 11SabiriSubstituted forChairat 45'minutes
  • 7Ziyech
  • 19En-Nesyri
  • 17BoufalSubstituted forZarouryat 64'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Aguerd
  • 6Saïss
  • 8Ounahi
  • 9Hamdallah
  • 10Zaroury
  • 12Mohamedi
  • 13Chair
  • 14Aboukhlal
  • 15Amallah
  • 16Ezzalzouli
  • 21Cheddira
  • 22Tagnaouti
  • 24Benoun
  • 26Jabrane
Referee:
Abdulrahman Al Jassim
Attendance:
44,137

Match Stats

Live Text

Post update

Match ends, Croatia 2, Morocco 1.

Artmotion S.Africa

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