Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 to finish third in World Cup 2022

Jubilant Croatian team celebration their 2-1 defeat of Morocco to secure a third place finish at this year's World Cup in Qatar. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 in the World Cup third-place playoff on Saturday, December 17, 2022, to secure a top-three finish in the tournament for the second consecutive edition.

Runners-up in 2018, Croatia also came third in the 1998 World Cup, beating the Netherlands 2-1.

Josko Gvardiol put Croatia in front after a well-designed set-piece play. Lovro Majer lobbed a free-kick to Ivan Perisic, who peeled away from his marker to head the ball to the middle of the box where Gvardiol was perfectly positioned to nod the ball into the net with a brilliant diving header.

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But it only took two minutes for Morocco to find the equaliser, also from a free-kick, as Croatia’s Majer tried to clear the ball but miscalculated his header and missed badly, setting up Morocco’s Achraf Dari, who was alone in the six-yard-box to send home a close-range header.

Croatia scored the winner three minutes from the break when Mislav Orsic netted a dipping, curled shot from just inside the area that went in off the post. They held their lead through an absorbing yet goalless second half.