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World Cup Group F: Croatia, Morocco get point in goalless draw

Kovacic Croatia Morocco World Cup
Photo: FIFA World Cup

Croatia won’t be sneaking up on anyone as they did in 2018 on its way to the World Cup Final, and Morocco certainly was ready on Wednesday going toe-to-toe in a goalless draw at Al Bayt Stadium. 

The point is undoubtedly larger for Morocco to provide just a bit more of an inkling that they can perhaps sneak out of a vaunted Group F that has the reigning finalists in Croatia and high-powered Belgium — who finished third in Russia four years ago — which plays Canada later on Wednesday.

It was the Moroccan defense that ultimately saved the point, keeping a dangerous and experienced Croatian side headlined by Luka Modric, which bossed 59% of the possession.

But it was Morocco that actually did a majority of the probing around the Croatian area in the opening stages. Still, the 2018 finalists came up with the biggest chances of the first half right at the death of it.

In the first minute of stoppage time, Borna Sosa got on the end of a clearance from Moroccan keeper Yassine Bounou on the left flank and sent a low cross to the near post where Nikola Vlasic got the end of it. His sliding shot was dangerous, but Bounou made himself big and got his knee on it.

One minute later, an Ivan Perisic cross found Vlasic for a volley attempt that was blocked and came right out to the dangerous Modric on his favored left foot just outside the penalty area. 

Usually, you’d put your money on the Croatian superstar to find the back of the net, but his shot sizzled over the crossbar.

It was Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic’s turn to make a big save on the other side of the break when wing-back Noussair Mazraoui had a free diving header at the left side of goal in the 51st minute that the keeper was able to get an arm on it. 

For Mazraoui, it turned out to be a detrimental attempt on goal as he appeared to have injured his hip and was forced to leave the match in the 60th minute after trying to play through it.

One of Morocco’s headlining stars, Achraf Hakimi — who pays for French power PSG — unleashed a cannon of a free kick in the 65th minute from distance that worried Livakovic as it swerved with menacing pace, but the keeper managed to stay behind it and punch it away.

 

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