15/04/2024

Croatia's Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren celebrate at the final whistle. (Image: HNS/Twitter)

Heading into the final group stage match, qualification for both Belgium and Croatia was going to be difficult with Morocco proving to be a big threat in the other match and in good stead to finish in the qualification zone.

A Belgian win would just about confirm qualification to the Round of 16 as they would finish ahead of Croatia. While a Croatian win would almost certify a top-of-the-group finish, yet a draw would be enough to go through.

It was only a quarter of an hour into the match when drama struck. Following a deep free-kick, while trying to clear the ball away, Yannick Carrasco made contact with a Croatian in the box.

Referee Anthony Taylor was instructed to have a look himself, by VAR. In doing so, he noticed an offside in the lead-up at the original free-kick, by mere inches.

Thus, any goals scored would be chalked off anyway. The decision was overturned and the scoreboard remained untouched.

Croatia remained on the front-foot for the most part, creating minimal chances, yet more than Belgium.

More World Cup News

Morocco advance to knockout stages with clinical win over Canada

Relentless Argentina tops Group C with dominant win

Mexico denied round of 16 birth thanks to late Saudi Arabia strike

Belgium opted for early changes, needing all three points. Head Coach Roberto Martinez decided to bring on forceful striker Romelu Lukaku at half-time.

It wasn’t until the final half-hour when Belgium began to look dangerous. It fantastically missed two chances, with Carrasco and Lukaku denied by the keeper and post respectively in one play.

Belgium continued to miss a plethora of close-range chances, so close they looked harder to miss than score.

Lukaku potentially missed the easiest chance of them all in the 90th minute. A cross from Thorgan Hazard drew Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic off his line, leaving Lukaku unattended at the back post.

Instead of using his chest to steer the ball home, he tried to chest the ball down to his feet. In doing so the ball was pounced on by Livakovic.

In a game of missed opportunities, more for one side than the other, the final whistle blew with the scoreline reading 0-0.

Croatia progressed to the Round of 16, finishing second in Group F, following Morocco’s 2-1 win over Canada which granted them the top of the group.

As for Belgium, it was knocked out, with its only win coming against Canada, who finished last in the group.

The drama didn’t stop there, as following its World Cup exit, Head Coach Martinez resigned from the top job effective immediately. He had decided to leave at the end of the tournament before the World Cup kicked off, but perhaps didn’t expect his exit to be so premature.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply