World Cup score: Croatia beats Morocco to finish third behind Mislav Orcic goal

For the third time in the last seven World Cups, Croatia finished on the podium. In what could be a stepping stone for the 2018 finalists, but surely his last game on the biggest stage, Luka Modric bows out a winner.

He was on top form until the end as Morocco’s magical run fizzled out in the first half, with Josco Guardiola and Mislav Orcic pipping Croatia to another third-place finish, meaning they will join the best 1998 team with bronze medals in their collection.

These games can go one of two ways, heavy-footed and disastrous internationals stumble into an occasion they don’t want to be anywhere else (quite understandable in the case of a mid-season World Cup) or both teams take it upon themselves to depart the world stage with a flourish. It was immediately apparent that these two would deliver the latter, with Ivan Perisic flicking the initial delivery wide of goal for Josco Guardiola to dive for a defiantly designed free kick.

Their lead lasted less than two minutes. Morocco’s equalizer was far less elegant, no less effective. Hakeem Ziyech’s delivery didn’t clear the second man, but a Croatian header spun the ball in the air and Achraf Dari determined its flight and tucked it in. Both sides had a second chance before half-time, Akraf Hakimi crossed. He was waiting to fly into the empty net behind Youssef N-Neziri, but Croatia took it.

It was one of Arcic’s best goals in the tournament. Finding space on the left side of the penalty area, he opened his body and struck a lob that slotted roughly past Yassin Bouunou’s far post, only for the Moroccan goalkeeper to be caught as the ball deflected into his net at the far post.

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Morocco’s legs may have tired in the second half, where they went just 10 minutes without injury, but they still chased the tie, N-Nessiri making a superb save from Dominik Livakovic minutes after Sofyan Amrabat tripped at Guardiola. In his own area. Even as En-Nesyri edged closer to a last-gasp title, Croatia’s ability to command possession for long periods saw them grind down their opponent’s reserves of energy and ease the finish line of another outstanding World Cup campaign.

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