Footy Times

Croatia advance as Belgium’s golden generation falls short again

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Belgium were eliminated from the World Cup after a 0-0 draw with Croatia on Thursday.

To advance through the group stage, Roberto Martinez’s side needed a win against the 2018 World Cup finalists, but they were unable to hit the back of the net.

Captain Eden Hazard was benched for the first half, and Romelu Lukaku came in to miss four major chances as Belgium’s World Cup odyssey came to an end.

Croatia advances to the round of 16, but only in second place after Morocco won the group with a 2-1 victory over Canada. Morocco won the group with a 2-1 victory over Canada.

“It’s not easy to win games in the World Cup,” Martinez told BBC after the game. “We weren’t ourselves in first game we had a deserved defeat in second game.

“Today we were ready, we created opportunities and today there is no regrets. We’re out but we can leave with our heads held high.”

Croatia dominated from the start and had an opportunity within the first 20 seconds, but Ivan Perisic fired his attempt over the crossbar.

After 14 minutes, Belgium counterattacked quickly, but Dries Mertens was unable to reach the target after a wonderful through ball from Kevin de Bruyne.

Croatia were awarded a penalty less than a minute later after Yannick Carrasco was adjudged to have brought down Andrej Kramaric inside the area.

Ivan Perisic missed the goal with his attempt in the opening 20 seconds as Croatia dominated from the opening whistle.

After 14 minutes, Belgium answered with a fast counterattack, but Dries Mertens was unable to score after receiving a superb through ball from Kevin de Bruyne.

Less than a minute later, Andrej Kramaric was fouled inside the penalty area by Yannick Carrasco, who was awarded a penalty kick.
Referee Anthony Taylor was sent to the monitor by the VAR as Luka Modric prepared to take the penalty kick, and the judgement was reversed due to an offside in the buildup.

The remainder of the half was a tense affair, but the action picked up after halftime.

Thibaut Courtois, the goalie for Belgium, was called into action early and stopped Croatia three times.

Lukaku was substituted in during the second half, but the Inter Milan forward wasted two excellent opportunities in quick succession.

Just after the hour mark, Lukaku reacted fastest to a rebound and, with the goalie out of position, managed to hit the post from close range.

The forward then sent a second simple shot over the crossbar when the goal was within reach.

It was not Lukaku’s night, as he missed two more open goals as Belgium’s late attempts were repelled by Croatia.


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