Croatia ended their 2022 FIFA World Cup (FWC) campaign on a high, defeating the tournament’s surprise package Morocco to finish third for the second time in their short history.
Given that 10 of the previous 11 FWC third place play-offs had seen at least three goals, a repeat of the 0-0 stalemate between these sides during the group stages appeared unlikely.
With just seven minutes on the clock, that hypothesis proved correct, as Croatia took the lead via a cleverly-executed set-piece routine.
Another set-piece was flicked on, this time inadvertently by Luka Modrić, permitting Achraf Dari to head home from close range.
Both sides displayed plenty of attacking endeavor throughout the first period, but with HT approaching, Croatia restored their lead.
Tempers flared late on, proving this was anything but an exhibition match for the players on the field, before En-Nesyri narrowly headed over in the dying seconds, as Croatia saw out the win to match their 1998 FWC placing.
Despite falling to defeat, Walid Regragui’s Morocco side can take solace from their unprecedented fourth-place finish, beating the odds by overcoming three top-10 nations in the FIFA World Rankings.