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World Cup Group F: Croatia recovers from slow start to eliminate Canada

Andrej Kramaric Croatia Canada World Cup
Andrej Kramaric celebrates his first of two goals against Canada. (Photo: FIFA World Cup)

Croatia finally showed some resemblance to the team that made the 2018 World Cup Final, shaking off a disastrous start to breeze past Canada 4-1 on Sunday in Qatar. 

Andrej Kramarić recorded a brace, scoring in each half to sandwich Marko Livaja’s go-ahead tally to move Croatia to the top of Group F with Belgium — who lost to Morocco earlier on Sunday — still to play. 

Alphonso Davies put Canada in front after just 80 seconds of the match to land a shocking early punch. The Bayern Munich star was unmarked as a cross found his head in the middle of the Croatian box to mark the first goal ever scored by a Canadian at a World Cup. They were held scoreless in their only previous appearance in 1986 before getting shut out by Belgium 1-0 during their opening match in Qatar. 

After an equalizer was wiped away due to an offside in the 26th minute, Croatia found its tying goal 10 minutes later when Kramarić was played down the left side of the box and from six yards out, slotted a low attempt well just inside the opposite post under the arm of keeper Milan Borjan. 

Livaja put Croatia ahead in the 44th minute, just eight minutes after Kramarić’s tally, to put the defending finalists ahead for good. After the ball pinged around the Canadian defense, it fell to the striker at the top of the box where he drove a low shot inside the left post. 

Kramarić made the Canada defense look silly in the 70th minute when — after taking a cross down neatly with his right foot — he faked a shot to send the defender the wrong way before pivoting to his left foot and curling a shot past a helpless Borjan.  

In the fourth minute of stoppage time and with Canada desperate to salvage something, Croatia got one more on the counter-attack that saw Mislav Orsic and Lovro Majer break away for a 2-on-0 chance against Borjan.  Entering the box, Orsic unselfishly passed to Majer, who found the top of the goal with his first touch. 

It was an ugly finish for Canada, which is now officially eliminated from the World Cup with one game still to play against Morocco.

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