Croatia takes third place with 2-1 win over Morocco

Croatia team celebrate after finishing in 3rd place at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. Photo: @FIFAWorldCup

Kampala, Uganda | QNA | Croatia’s goals were scored by Josko Gvardiol (7), Mislav Orsic (42); while Morocco’s goal was scored by Achraf Dari (9).

FIFA President Gianni Infantino presented the Croatian team with bronze medals after they secured third place for the second time at a FIFA World Cup, having also claimed the final place on the podium at France 98. Meanwhile, the Moroccan team finished its distinguished World Cup participation in the fourth place as the first African side to finish in the final four.

The first goal of Croatia was a terrifically worked free-kick with Ivan Perisic nodding the ball across the penalty box, where Josko Gvardiol flung himself forward to power a header past Yassine Bounou, the Morocco goalkeeper. For Perisic it was his fifth World Cup assist.

Morocco equalized almost immediately following a wide free-kick by Hakim Ziyech, captaining the team on his 50th appearance. The ball looped off the head of Luka Modric on the edge of the area and fell inside the six-yard box, where Achraf Dari stooped to nod in his first international goal.

Morocco’s goal was scored by Achraf Dari

Morocco have delighted both the African and Arab worlds with their unprecedented run to the last four after and though Modric tested Bounou with a low drive, Walid Regragui’s men were arguably on top as the first period approached an end. However, it was Croatia who reclaimed the lead just before the break.

Bilal El Khannouss, making his Morocco debut, won the ball on the edge of his box only to then lose it to Mateo Kovacic. Croatia worked the ball swiftly to Mislav Orsic on the left side of the box and he curled a lovely first-time effort over Bounou and in off the far post.

Croatia looked to be the more likely scorers for much of the second half, with Kovacic coming closest for the Balkan team in the 87th minute as he dragged a shot wide of the far post.

Morocco only seriously threatened an equalizer deep into stoppage time with a header from Youssef En-Nesyri which landed on the roof of the net. For Croatia, it was job done.

Gvardiol went into the semi-final having been widely billed as one of the best centre-backs on view at Qatar 2022. His contribution had included a vital goal-saving tackle on Romelu Lukaku to ensure Croatia got out of their group at Belgium’s expense.

Yet the 20-year-old Leipzig defender went back to Croatia’s base on Tuesday night having become the umpteenth victim of Lionel Messi’s brilliance, bamboozled by the little magician, who turned him inside out in setting up Argentina’s third goal.

Gvardiol bounced back here by scoring his first World Cup following a free-kick routine straight off the training round. Majer clipped a free-kick towards Perisic, running away from goal, and the winger flexed his neck muscles superbly to direct the ball back towards the penalty spot, where Gvardiol struck with a diving header.

With his goal, moreover, he became his country’s youngest World Cup scorer, aged 20 years and 328 days. He may have been wearing a protective mask in Qatar but he will now head for home with a face and a name that are much more widely known.

Croatia take the #FIFAWorldCup 3rd spot! @adidasfootball | #Qatar2022

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 17, 2022



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