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Croatia 2-1 Morocco: World Cup 2022 third-place playoff – live | World Cup 2022




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Some of the Moroccan players are trying to get at the referee, which is more than a little ridiculous, and now Walid Regragui is having an animated discussion with him. I can’t remember any dodgy decisions at all, apart from the penalty that should have given to Croatia for the foul on Gvardiol.

Full time: Croatia 2-1 Morocco

Croatia finish third at the World Cup, as this did in 1998, after winning an enjoyable game against Morocco.

90+6 min: So close from En-Nesyri! Attiat-Allah beats his man again on the left, but this time he stands up a lovely cross to the far post. En-Nesyri gets up early, hangs in the air for an age and heads onto the roof of the net. A great effort.

90+5 min Mislav Orsic, whose memorable goal has probably settled this game, is replaced by Kristijan Jakic.

90+4 min Attiat-Allah beats Stanisic with ease on the left but smashes his cross too close to Livakovic.

90+2 min Amallah’s dangerous inswinging cross is headed away well by Perisic. What a brilliant, multi-purpose footballer he has been.

90+1 min There will be six minutes of added time.

90 min Morocco appeal for a penalty when En-Nesyri’s header, from Hakimi’s cross, deflects off Petkovic and wide. Replays show it hit his shoulder blade, not his arm.

88 min “Greetings from Los Angeles!” writes Michael S Weller. “I appreciated Eric from Pittsburgh’s point about Croatia/Morocco/Belgium in Group F, and his comment made me think about this year’s group stage as a whole. Others have noted how exciting the conclusion of this year’s group stage was; I also wonder if there has been a more evenly balanced set of groups in recent tournaments? In any case, I hope Fifa decide to keep the groups of four for 2026.”

Yes, agreed. Groups of three, for reasons I’m too weary and cold-ridden to go into, are a hideous idea.

87 min Kovacic misses a great chance to seal the match. He made it for himself with some beautiful footwork, shifting the ball one way and then the other to hoodwink a defender in the area. That put him through on goal, but his left-footed shot faded past the far post.

84 min Now Amallah is booked for dissent, and a number of Morocco players are surrounding the referee, angry that he gave a free-kick when Petkovic was caught in the face by a stray arm. There was a bit of pushing and shoving from the players on both sides before things settled down.

82 min “That penalty was so obvious,” says Peter Oh. “It’s right there in his name, GVARdiol!

81 min “Kudos to the referee,” says Paul Pooley, “who is clearly trying to see if he can keep his cards in his pocket all the way to the finish.”

Alas, Ounahi opened his mouth in the 69th minute and was booked.

Morocco's Azzedine Ounahi talks himself into the book of referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim.
Morocco’s Azzedine Ounahi (right) talks himself into the book of referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

80 min The intensity of this game has been surprisingly high. It clearly means a lot to both teams, particularly Morocco.

78 min It’s a shame Gvardiol’s World Cup will be chiefly remembered for a Lionel Messi body swerve because he has been fantastic, probably the best defender in the tournament. Croatia would have gone out at the group stage but for his glorious last-ditch tackle on Romelu Lukaku.

77 min You can understand the referee not seeing the foul by Amrabat, as his view was slightly impeded, but for VAR to wave it away is preposterous. State of it.

75 min: Fine save from Livakovic! A cross from the left skims the head of Gvardiol and comes to En-Nesyri, whose close-range shot is superbly saved by Livakovic. Then Hakimi goes down appealing for a penalty after a challenge from Petkovic. That wasn’t a foul, but we’ve just seen a replay of the Gvardiol appeal, and it was one of the clearest penalties of the tournament. Amrabat just legged him up. Chalk up another triumph for VAR.

Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saves a shot from Morocco's Youssef En-Nesyri.
Croatia’s goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saves a shot from Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

74 min Gvardiol rampages into the area, onto a superb angled pass from Orsic, and falls over under a challenge from Amrabat. The referee says no penalty, and the Croatia bench are fuming.

Croatia's Josko Gvardiol goes down under a challenge from Morocco's Sofyan Amrabat in the penalty area.
Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol goes down under a challenge from Morocco’s Sofyan Amrabat in the penalty area. Photograph: Molly Darlington/Reuters

71 min A dodgy ball from Amrabat goes straight to Vlasic, 40 yards out. He makes a beeline for goal and slashes a long-range drive over the bar. That’s Croatia’s 12th attempt on goal; Morocco, despite some bright attacking play, have had only three.

69 min Ounahi is booked for dissent.

68 min “FIFA should allow unlimited substitutions in consolation games,” says Peter Oh, “so that unused subs can get a run out on the big stage.”

I can’t think of anything more perfectly designed to tip a weary liveblogger over the edge at the end of a long tournament.

67 min Now Jawad El Yamiq is injured, which means Morocco are without five defenders. They have no more on the bench, so Selim Amallah comes on in El Yamiq’s place and the admirable Sofyan Amrabat drops into the defence.

66 min: Double change for Croatia Bruno Petkovic and Mario Pasalic replace Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer.

65 min Hakimi’s lofted cross is headed away well by Sutalo, under pressure from En-Nesyri.

64 min Two changes for Morocco. Sofiane Boufal and the limping Achraf Dari are replaced by Anass Zaroury, the Burnley youngster, and Badr Benoun.

62 min It sounds like Kramaric has a hamstring injury. His team, Hoffenheim, don’t return to Bundesliga action until 21 January so hopefully it won’t affect him too much.

61 min: Croatia substitution Nikola Vlasic replaces Andrej Kramaric, who is in tears as he walks off the field.

59 min Kramaric is struggling, having pulled something in the act of crossing. The interesting thing is that he was offside, but play continued because of the change in the law. And now look!

57 min This will go to extra-time and penalties if necessary. I know.

56 min: Morocco substitution Azzedine Ounahi, a team of the tournament staple, replaces the impressive teenager Bilal El Khannouss.

55 min Majer hits another wicked cross towards Livaja, who mistimes his volley and does himself a temporary mischief in the process. Majer has a left foot to die for.

53 min Kovacic is tackled just inside the Morocco area, with the ball running on towards Mayer near the byline. He draws Bono and lifts a short-range cross that is cleared.

52 min Boufal’s long pass is chested into the area by En-Nesyri, but Perisic tracks him all the way.

51 min A vicious cross from Majer on the left is shinned past the far post by one of the Moroccan defenders, El Yamiq I think. The referee wrongly gives a goalkick.

48 min Ziyech, who has moved into a more central position, finds Attiat-Allah in space on the left side of the area, but he can’t quite control the bouncing ball on the stretch.

47 min Orsic almost scores another belter. He cut inside from the left and thrashed a rising drive that took a slight deflection off El Yamiq and rippled the side netting at the near post.

46 min Peep peep! Morocco have made a half-time substitution: Ilias Chair has replaced Abdelhamid Sabiri.

The players are coming back out. And it looks like Achraf Dari is okay to continue.

“Seeing the goals and today’s play, one can only imagine what was possible if Dalić had been braver with the lineup,” says Tomislav Chagall. “Oh well.”

Half time: Croatia 2-1 Morocco

That was plenty of fun. Josko Gvardiol and Mislav Orsic scored quite brilliant goals for Croatia either side of Achraf Dari’s equaliser. But poor Dari went down just before the half-time whistle and looks like he’s struggling.

45 min There will be two added minutes.

Mislav Orsic has restored Croatia’s lead. It looked like they had missed the chance by overplaying, but Kovacic won the ball back on the edge of the D and gave it to Livaja (I think). He flicked it outside to Orsic, who ran round the ball, on the left edge of the area, and floated an exquisite first-time shot across goal with his right foot. It beat the flying Bono, hit the inside of the far post and rebounded into the net.

Croatia’s Mislav Orsic scores their second goal
Croatia’s Mislav Orsic hits a first time shot … Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Croatia’s Mislav Orsic scores their second goal past Morocco’s Yassine Bono.
The ball flies goalwards … Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters
Mislav Orsic (not pictured) of Croatia scores the team’s second goal past Yassine Bono of Morocco.
Morocco keeper Bono stretches but just can’t reach the ball and Croatia have the lead again. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Croatia’s Mislav Orsic celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal.
Orsic celebrates after his fine finish. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

GOAL! Croatia 2-1 Morocco (Orsic 42)

Another tremendous goal for Croatia!

40 min Ziyech shoots wide from 30 yards after twisting Modric one way and then the other. When he’s in the mood, Ziyech is just so much fun to watch. In fact, you picked a decent XI from this World Cup of players who aren’t regulars for their clubs.

37 min Ziyech’s wicked inswinging corner from the right is flicked right across the face of goal by En-Nesyri.

35 min Morocco are having a good spell. Ziyech whips a free-kick from the left towards the far post, where Perisic stretches to head clear. That was an important touch because there were a couple of unmarked Moroccan players behind him.

33 min Lovely play from Morocco. Boufal zips infield from the left, plays a one-two with the teenager El Khannouss and is about to shoot when the covering Sutalo knocks the ball off Boufal and behind for a goalkick. The Morocco players are fuming that a corner wasn’t given, but replays show the referee got it right.

31 min “Good morning from Pittsburgh!” says Eric Peterson. “I consider Belgium to be this recent era’s greatest underachievers – tons of individual talent that never reached its potential as a team – but this game makes me wonder how much fun it would be to go back in time one month and tell folks not only that Group F would provide both contestants in the third-place game, but that neither one would be Belgium. Talk about getting laughed out of the alehouse, huh?”

29 min Hakimi plays a gorgeous one-two with Ziyech on the right, surges into the area but then hits his cross behind En-Nesyri, who was waiting in front of an open goal at the far post. That was a real chance for Morocco.

Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco dives for the ball.
Youssef En-Nesyri of Morocco can’t get to the ball to nod the ball home. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Fifa/Getty Images

28 min Croatia have been the dominant team, with six shots to Morocco’s one I think. Ultimately none of this matters – life, I mean, not the third-place playoff – but it’s enjoyable stuff.

Croatia's Luka Modric surges past Morocco's Hakim Ziyech.
Croatia’s Luka Modric surges past Morocco’s Hakim Ziyech. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


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