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Morocco ends magical World Cup run with defeat to Croatia in third place playoff

Morocco finished up their historic 2022 FIFA World Cup run in Qatar with Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the Third Place Playoff, leaving the Atlas Lions in fourth place. Achraf Dari equalized for Morocco inside the opening ten minutes following Joško Gvardiol’s goal but Mislav Oršić provided the winning strike for the Croatian team soon before halftime. Morocco’s fourth place finish ends a campaign that saw them reach the furthest of any African nation at the world football showcase.

Third Place Playoffs are known for featuring more goals and Saturday’s matchup was no different with both teams more relaxed following their semifinal eliminations earlier in the week. A clever set piece led to Croatia opening the scoring in the 7th minute with a free kick floated into the box for Ivan Perišić to head back towards the penalty spot, where Gvardiol met the ball with an accurate header past Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. Less than three minutes the match was back even, however, when Hakim Ziyech’s free kick service deflected to a wide open Dari for a close range headed finish.

The first half contained most of the action with both teams having opportunities to find their second goals. Bounou did well to slap away a loose rebound after stopping an initial shot from Luka Modrić in the 24th minute and Moroccan right back Achraf Hakimi’s cross went just behind Youssef En-Nesyri five minutes later. Croatia snatched the lead in the 42nd minute when Marko Livaja set up Oršić on the left wing for the Dinamo Zagreb player to curl in a shot with his right foot that went past Bounou and in off the post.

Croatia looked more likely to score after the halftime break but the second half saw both teams looking more fatigued. Oršić had a shot that was deflected wide early in the second half and substitute Nikola Vlašić fired off target in the 71st minute. Morocco had two good looks in the final twenty minute through En-Nesyri, whose open shot was well saved by Croatia keeper Dominik Livaković in the 75th minute before En-Nesyri headed over a last gasp attack in stoppage time.

Highlights of the match are below.

Croatia 2-1 Morocco Highlights

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