Croatia edge out Morocco to finish third at World Cup

Third Place Play-off

Croatia 2-1 Morocco

Superb goals from Josko Gvardiol and Mislav Orsic helped Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 to finish in third place for the second time at a World Cup.

The victory also sees Croatia captain Luka Modric end what is likely to be his last World Cup with a bronze medal, although the 37-year-old has yet to call time on his international career.

Defeat for Morocco saw them miss out on the chance to become the first African nation to pick up a medal at a World Cup, while Croatia’s win clinched their third top-three finish at the tournament.

Croatia took a seventh-minute lead through a stunning diving header from Gvardiol to cap off a fine tournament for the impressive 20-year-old centre-back.

Dari celebrates after equalising for Morocco.

But Morocco responded immediately as Achraf Dari nodded home from close range just two minutes later.

Croatia restored their lead, though, in the 42nd minute with a wonderful curling winner from Orsic as his first-time effort inside the box bent past Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou and went in off the far post.

Morocco came close to a late equaliser but Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic denied Youssef En-Nesyri to ensure they claimed their second World Cup bronze medal after achieving the feat in 1998.

If Modric, who was making his 162nd appearance for his country, is about to call time on his international career then a potential new captain in Gvardiol has emerged in Qatar.

A well-worked Croatia free-kick saw Lovro Majer clip the ball into Ivan Perisic who headed across goal for the diving Gvardiol to power past Bounou.

Orsic curls in the sensational winner.

But the lead lasted just one minute and 49 seconds as Majer’s headed clearance from Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick fell into the path of Dari who nodded home from close range in the ninth minute.

Three minutes before half-time Croatia restored their lead as Marko Livaja set up Orsic who bent a first-time right-footed effort past Bounou.

Croatia appealed for a second-half penalty when Gvardiol was tackled by Sofyan Amrabat but Qatari official Abdulrahman Al Jassim refused to award one.

En-Nesyri came close twice to levelling in the dying minutes as he was first denied by Livakovic before heading over in stoppage as Croatia held on to ensure a European nation won the third-place play-off for an 11th consecutive tournament.

Man of the match: Joško Gvardiol (Croatia)

Substitutes:

Croatia

  • Nikola Vlasic replaces Andrej Kramaric 62 mins
  • Mario Pasalic replaces Marko Livaja 66 mins
  • Bruno Petkovic replaces Lovro Majer 66 mins
  • Kristijan Jakic replaces Mislav Orsic 90′ mins

Morocco

  • Ilias Chair replaces Abdelhamid Sabiri 46 mins
  • Azzedine Ounahi replaces Bilal El Khannouss 56 mins
  • Anass Zaroury replaces Sofiane Boufal 64 mins
  • Badr Benoun replaces Achraf Dari 64 mins
  • Selim Amallah replaces Jawad El Yamiq 68 mins

Yellow cards:

Morocco – Azzedine Ounahi, Selim Amallah

Referee: Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (Qatar)


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