Croatia beats Morocco 2-1 to take 3rd place at World Cup

Mislav Orsic scored the decisive goal shortly before halftime at Khalifa International Stadium to ensure Modric finished on a winning note, if this does turn out to be his last World Cup match.

Published: 17th December 2022 11:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th December 2022 11:15 PM   |  A+A-

Morocco's Bilal El Khannous, left, and Croatia's Luka Modric fight for the ball during the World Cup third-place playoff at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 17, 2022. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

AL RAYYAN, Qatar: Luka Modric led Croatia to third place in what was likely the midfield great’s last appearance at the World Cup.

The runners-up from four years ago secured another medal by beating Morocco 2-1 in the third-place match on Saturday.

Mislav Orsic scored the decisive goal shortly before halftime at Khalifa International Stadium to ensure Modric finished on a winning note, if this does turn out to be his last World Cup match.

At the age of 37, that seems likely, even if there are hopes he will lead his country at the 2024 European Championship.

Josko Gvardiol put Croatia ahead in the seventh minute, but Achraf Dari evened the score in the ninth.

It is the second time Croatia has taken third place. The team also achieved that feat in its first World Cup as an independent nation 1998.

After becoming the first African team to reach the World Cup semifinals, Morocco’s tournament ended in two losses. But the team’s achievements in Qatar will be remembered for the outpouring of pride among Arab nations.

The World Cup final between defending champion France and Argentina is scheduled for Sunday at Lusail Stadium.

The third-place match is considered by some to be a meaningless exhibition. Even Morocco coach Walid Regragui described it as a “booby prize” in the buildup. But neither team lacked motivation in a fiercely contested game between two nations that few expected to go so far.

That was underlined by a host of players needing to be substituted because of injury in the second half as Morocco pushed for an equalizer.

The teams had already played out a 0-0 draw in the group stage and had made to the semifinals on the back of tough defenses, with a combined six shutouts. Goals weren’t a problem this time.

Perhaps that was because of the relative freedom of playing in a game with supposedly little at stake. Another factor for Morocco, at least, was the absence of three key defenders, Romain Saiss, Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui.

The impact of those absences was felt when Croatia took the lead off Gvardiol’s diving header. In a slick move, Ivan Perisic flicked a free kick into the middle of the penalty box and the center back did the rest.

Morocco responded two minutes later when Lovro Majer inadvertently helped on Hakim Ziyech’s free kick and Dari headed in to even the score.

Croatia, however, was back in front three minutes before halftime.

Orsic picked up the ball on the left of the box and curled a shot toward the top corner. Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou got a touch on the ball, but could only push it onto the post on its way into the net.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp