Morocco held Croatia to a 0-0 draw of their opening sport of the World Cup on Wednesday, producing a spirited show in opposition to the 2018 runners-up led by Luka Modric.
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Backed by Qatar’s massive Moroccan neighborhood on the Al Bayt Stadium, the Atlas Lions adopted up north African rivals Tunisia’s robust efficiency in opposition to darkish horses Denmark a day earlier to frustrate Croatia.
“This was an especially tough sport,” mentioned Croatia captain Modric. “I do consider because the event goes on we’ll be higher and we’ll undertake a extra proactive perspective.”
Modric insisted Croatia are able to making one other deep run regardless of a sluggish begin within the early afternoon warmth.
“We’ve not come right here to simply play and get out the group,” mentioned Modric.
“Our ambitions are a bit larger on the premise of our Russia achievement, however we have to take it one step at a time.
“Even earlier than the 2018 World Cup we mentioned our major objective was to make it out the group. If we handle to try this we could be a harmful opponent for any workforce.”
Coach Zlatko Dalic had urged Croatia to train warning following Saudi Arabia’s shock win over Argentina, a end result Morocco captain Romain Saiss mentioned had “opened the door” for the event’s less-fancied groups.
Morocco took the sport to a Croatia aspect that includes 4 gamers who began the 2018 last however struggled to create real probabilities in opposition to a defence marshalled by the skilled Dejan Lovren.
Azzedine Ounahi unusually opted in opposition to capturing when properly positioned inside the world, with Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi closely concerned down the suitable with out ever actually threatening Croatia.
Ivan Perisic fired simply over from distance for Croatia after intercepting a dreadful cross from Selim Amallah, whereas goalkeeper Yassine Bounou blocked properly along with his legs to disclaim Nikola Vlasic from shut vary.
Modric, the previous Ballon d’Or winner showing at his fourth World Cup on the age of 37, then hammered over from the sting of the field.
Morocco misplaced Noussair Mazraoui early within the second half after his diving header was saved, the Bayern Munich full-back injuring himself when he tumbled awkwardly to the bottom.
Sofyan Amrabat poked Lovren’s goal-bound effort away off the road after a scramble at a nook, whereas Hakimi’s free-kick on the different finish was overwhelmed to security by Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic.
Solely as soon as have Morocco gone past the group stage, in 1986, however they are going to price their probabilities of advancing with video games to return in opposition to an ageing Belgium workforce and Group F outsiders Canada.
Croatia pushed for a late winner however discovered Morocco’s defence in unforgiving temper as Walid Regragui’s aspect secured a worthwhile and deserved level.
“I feel it’s an excellent level for us,” mentioned Regragui, who was solely appointed as Morocco coach in late August.
“It retains us alive for the subsequent two video games. I’m very happy with my gamers. I feel this sport makes us extra assured.”