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Sat. Nov 26th, 2022
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NEW DELHI: The last edition runners-up Croatia opened their FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign with a goalless draw against Morocco in the opening match of the Group F at the Al Bayt Stadium on Wednesday.
There were chances for Croatia in the match but they failed to capitalise on them when Dejan Lovren had an effort cleared off the line while Nikola Vlasic’s close shot was denied by the Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
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Morocco managed to stifle Croatia captain Luka Modric, who won the best player award at the last World Cup when he led his country to the final before losing to France.
The Moroccans didn’t just defend and troubled Croatia’s defense, including with a thumping second-half shot from Achraf Hakimi that goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic had to punch away with both fists.
Morocco looked principally to Hakim Ziyech for inspiration and the Chelsea winger, recalled to the squad following coach Walid Regragui’s appointment, was their most dangerous attacking outlet in the early stages, although his good work lacked an end product.

While the encounter was low on action it was at least high on intensity, as both sides battled for midfield supremacy, but the first half ended with neither goal really threatened until the closing moments when Vlasic’s low effort was saved by Yassine Bounou.
There was more action in the first five minutes of the second half when Morocco had raucous appeals for a penalty waved away after Sofiane Boufal’s shot appeared to hit Dejan Lovren’s arm, seconds before Mazraoui’s header was saved by Dominik Livakovic.
Moments later, Lovren’s effort on the slide at the other end was blocked by Sofyan Amrabat, but that was about as good as it got for Croatia until centre back Josko Gvardiol’s header went wide in the 80th minute.
Croatia will now turn their attention to their game against Canada on Sunday, when Morocco will face Belgium.
(With Agency Inputs)

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