World Cup Saturday Recap: Croatia top Morocco 2-1 to claim third place and put finishing touch on their golden generation

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse FABIOFERR/Shutterstock (13671726i) Doha, Qatar – sport Soccer – Qatar 2022- Fifa World Cup – FInal 3/4 place – Croatia v Morocco – Khalifa Interantional Stadium. In the pic: ORSIC Mislav (CRO) celebrates after goal 2-1 – PERISIC Ivan (CRO) Qatar 2022 – FIFA World Cup – Croatia vs Morocco final 3/4 place, Doha – 17 Dec 2022

World Cup Saturday Recap: Croatia top Morocco 2-1 to claim third place and put finishing touch on their golden generation

Recapping the Saturday action:


  • What: World Cup, 3rd-Place Match
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 @ 9 a.m. CT
  • Where: Khalifa International Stadium (Al Rayyan, Qatar)
  • FIFA World Ranking: Croatia (No. 12), Morocco (No. 22)

Croatia scored two first-half goals and stifled Morocco defensively in the second half en route to a 2-1 victory in the FIFA World Cup third-place game on Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. With the win, Croatia claimed third place overall at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, finishing an improbable eight-year run after placing second at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Croatia’s first goal of the match came on a header from standout defender Josko Gvardiol in the seventh minute. However, No. 22-ranked Morocco swiftly responded with a goal in the 9th minute on a header from fellow defender Achraf Dari to even the score at 1-1.

The eventual game-winning goal also came in the first half, as Croatian winger Mislav Orsic curled a spectacular kick in the 42nd minute, from the left side of the box and into the center area of the net. Saturday’s win marked the second third-place finish at the World Cup for Croatia since 1998, when the Chequereds finished third in their first year as a FIFA member. They’ve finished in the top three or better in three of their six overall World Cup appearances since, with Croatia’s only time not qualifying coming back at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Croatia became the first team in Qatar – seven matches total – to score multiple goals in one half against the Cinderella Moroccans, which used a stellar defense to become the first-ever African nation to play in both the World Cup semifinals and third-place game. Morocco’s defense sorely missed the presence of 32-year-old veteran and captain Romain Saïss, however, after he limped off in the first half during the Lions of Atlas’ semifinal loss to France on Wednesday.

Both sides displayed plenty of firepower and scoring ability on Saturday despite the game being a rematch of the teams’ 0-0 draw less than one month ago on Matchday 1 of group play.

Croatian ended the match with a slight edge in time of possession (51% to 49%), total shots (12 to 9), shots on goal (4 to 2), and corner kicks (6 to 3), while Morocco actually led the game in expected goals (1.19 to 0.65) and shots inside the box (7 to 5), according to FOTMOB. While Morocco’s Cinderella run officially comes to an end, the Lions of Atlas will leave Qatar as the undisputed local fan favorite and with history on their side. The 2022 World Cup was Morocco’s sixth-ever World Cup appearance, second straight, and second time ever advancing out of the group stage. Their only two losses out of seven matches came against both the 2018 World Cup champion French and the 2018 World Cup runners-up in Croatia.

Final Round Remaining Schedule:

Sunday, Dec. 18

  • What: Finals Match
  • Who: Argentina (No. 3) vs. France (No. 4)
  • When, where: 9 a.m. CT, Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail, Qatar)

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