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Belgium vs Croatia: A goalless draw but far from boring

Croatia advance to the Round of 16 after holding Belgium to a nil-nil game in their final group clash



Croatia and Belgium played a goalless draw in their final group F game yesterday evening. Both teams arrived at the 2022 World cup with a rich legacy of being the runners up and third place winner in the 2018 World Cup respectively.

 Falling prey to the topsy turvy suspense of this winter cup, both teams commonly seen as the ‘dark horses’ of world football, did not shine as bright as before in the group stage, with their only wins coming against Canada, who is making its second World Cup appearance since making its debut in 1986.

 After losing to Morocco by two goals, the Belgian ‘golden generation’ needed a win to progress while a draw was sufficient for the checkered shirts to book a berth in the knockout round of the tournament.

 Despite being a goalless draw, the match was exceedingly exciting and fast in tempo, with Ivan Perisic managing a shot on goal in the 8th second of the game itself.

The Croats almost won a penalty in the 19th minute of the game, as Yannick Carrasco fouled Andrej Kramaric. But following a VAR check, the referee disallowed the penalty after spotting an offside first during the Luka Modric free-kick.

Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic who wears jersey number 8 in the national team and plays for Chelsea in the Premier League, tested Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a tight angle shot, which was a comfortable save for the latter..

It was Belgian ace Romelu Lukaku however, who had a night to forget as he failed to convert several crucial chances that came to him during the course of the second half. Perhaps, lady luck did not favour the Belgians, as Lukaku’s follow up shot hit the goalpost in the 59th minute of the game, which was followed by a high placed header in front of an open goal (luckily for him the ball had gone out of play)

Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Belgium skipper Eden Hazard, sent in a solid cross beating the Croatian keeper but Lukaku failed to control the ball and give it the right direction.

 With the match ending in a goalless draw, Croatia qualified to the Round of 16, earning 5 points to manage a second position. Morocco emerged as the table toppers with 7 points in their kitty.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]