Croatia have eliminated Belgium from the 2022 FIFA World Cup after holding the Red Devils to a thrilling 0-0 draw in their final group game.
Head to Head
Croatia have faced fellow European opponents ten times in a FIFA World Cup clash and have lost to only one opponent – France. They have won six and drawn two.
However, in all competitions, they have lost their last two meetings against Belgium.
Belgium, on the hand, defeated Canada but suffered a defeat against Morocco. Belgium had to win to stand a chance of making it to the next round of the competition, while a draw for the Croats would be enough.
Croatia paraded an unchanged squad that smashed Canada. Modric, Kovacic, and Brozovic were still deployed in the midfield, while Ivan Perisic led the frontline.
Belgium made four significant changes to the squad that suffered a shock defeat to Morocco.
The Hazard brothers were left out of the starting lineup, while the likes of Trossard and Carrasco made it to the starting lineup
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Andrej Kramaric, Marko Livaja, Ivan Perisic.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Leander Dendoncker, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Meunier, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Timothy Castagne; Leandro Trossard, Yannick Carrasco, Dries Mertens.
First Half Report
It was a shocker as the first half began. Croatia nearly scored just 10 seconds into the game. Luka Modric floated a perfect long pass to Ivan Perisic, who charged forward and fired blank off the far post.
Croatia seemed to control the game in the first few minutes of play and constantly made speedy efforts charging forward against the Belgian’s defense.
After the 7th minute of play, Belgium finally began to hold sway of the ball over the Croats. They dominated play and doused the early spirited drive of the Croats.
Belgium had a clear chance in the 13th minute. Kevin De Bruyne had led a counterattack. He located Mertens, who fired wide over the bar from close range.
Two minutes later, Croatia had a penalty. After a scramble in the Belgian box, Carrasco had stuck out his leg, which appeared to touch Kramaric. It was widely thought of as a penalty, but after a VAR check, it was ruled out.
The game continued goalless, with both sides unable to find the back of the net., but Belgium were still dominating play.
An update from the Canada Vs Morocco game showed the Tunisians were leading 2-1, meaning Belgium must win against the Croats to qualify. Hence the immense pressure and effort by the Roberto Martinez-led team.
However, despite the heavy pressure by Belgium, they ended the first half goalless, as Croat sat back to defend throughout the game.
Second Half Report
Belgium made an early substitution in the 46th minute, bringing off Mertens for Romelu Lukaku to add more force to the attacking line-up.
Nothing changed as Belgium continued to dominate play. This time, they looked more dangerous and created seven clear-cut chances.
Croatia continued to defend, but the Belgians seemed to be in control when going forward and had their way inside the box easily.
Despite numerous chances created by the Belgians, they were unable to convert any, and the match still remained goalless with the second half far spent.
After Lukaku, Roberto Martinez brought on Petkovic, Pasalic, Doku, Thorgan Hazard, and Tielemans to try and change the game.
Croatia held on without substitution and ensured they contained Belgium to prevent a late goal that could bundle them out of the competition.
Croatian defender Gvardiol gave a brilliant performance, winning duels and blocking shots from Hazard and Tielemans.
With less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the game still remained goalless, and Belgium were getting desperate for a goal.
The stoppage time witnessed massive action and pressure in the Croatian box, but they held on and repelled the Belgians till the final whistle.
The game ended with Croatia grabbing a much-needed point to qualify for Round 16, while Belgium crashed out of the tournament.