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Croatia, Morocco share points

Published : 23 Nov 2022 10:11 PM | Updated : 24 Nov 2022 04:37 PM

Croatia, the sensational finalist of 2018 Croatia were held to a 0-0 draw by Morocco to share points in their opening match match of the World Cup 2022 at Al Byat Stadium, Al Khor.

Croatia, runners-up at the last World Cup were beaten by France in the 2018 final in Moscow, had the better of the chances, though neither side has created particularly good opportunities. But one moment of brilliance from either side could change the complexion of the game.

Croatia, predictably, were passing well, with 59 percent ball possession compared to Morocco’s 41 percent in the 90 minutes plus eight minutes added time. 

However, with Dejan Lovren having an effort cleared off the line and Nikola Vlasic's close shot saved by the legs of Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, so far the best chance of the match was created. 

 Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesryi might have given the North Africans an early lead but was unable to get a decent touch onto Hakim Ziyech's dangerous cross.

Morocco striker Youssef En-nesryi to get a decent touch onto Hakim Ziiyech’s dangerous cross.

No goals so far, but the atmosphere in the stadium is heated. Morrocan fans make themselves heard, and the players fight for every ball.

Croatia have been looking confident, with Modric and Vlasic having had a fair share of possession.

But Morocco drew the first blood of the game with breaking into the Croatian defense when Boufal tried to pick out a pass to En-Nesyri, before the ball was cleared on seven minute.

Sensing an opportunity to score, Perisic tries his luck from range and the ambitious effort was not far from target – a nervy moment for the Morocco keeper on 17th minute when Croatia sounded well in the intense atmosphere in the 60,00cpacity crowd stadium. 

The mood in the stadium has really picked up in the stadium with the Atlas Lions fans out here with their drums, clapping every move their team makes toward the goal and then groaning in agony when a chance is missed.

A potential dangerous opportunity for Morocco, but Ziyech’s free-kick shot is blocked by Croatia’s wall on 20th minute.

Morocco defend valiantly to frustrate Croatia while Croatia had 65 percent ball possession, they could only muster five shots, with just two on target in the first half.  A draw is a good result for Morocco but will be frustrating for Croatia, though real Chances were few and far between at both ends.

The first clear-cut chance of the game is for Croatia as Vlasic finds himself at the end of a low through ball but Bounou used his legs to make a good save from the close-range poke just in the first minutes first half injury time. 

Croatia’s lack of pace in the final third was on show and they might look to tweak things ahead of the second half in order to try to create more opportunities.

The first half ends with a burst of energy from Croatia when Modric shoots from range but his shot sails into the stands and Morocco might be happier so far. They have denied Croatia the opportunity to create, apart from the late chances by Vlasic and Luca Modric, who turned 37 this year, helped Croatia reach the final of the 2018 World Cup.

After the goalless first half Croatian midfield duo finally combine but they have been denied space so far by the Moroccan when the Croatian midfield duo of Modric and Brozovic combine well before Vlasic is played in.

Croatia have plenty of quality but have not gelled on the day, when they looked for one final push as Perisic is replaced by Orsic.

Ziyech has not seen much of the ball in this half but he swings in a cross which the alert Livakovic comes off his line to grab.

Hakimi looking sharp for Morocco when his fierce long-range free-kick earlier in the second half was perhaps the closest his team has come to scoring. It’s not quite happening for Croatia.

Things are not going according to plan for Croatia so far, as Morocco were frustrating them when the match was ended on 0-0 draw.    

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