The third place play-off of the 2022 World Cup has concluded, with Croatia defeating Morocco in a 2-1 outcome at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Saturday, December 17.
To some people, this battle of the semifinal losers is a little more than a meaningless exhibition match, but to others, it's a chance to become "immortal".
The third place play-off can actually be a perplexing part of the World Cup.
Morocco coach Walid Regragui said on Friday:
"You are so disappointed, you've just lost a semifinal and then two days later you have to go back out there. It's like the booby prize. I am sorry for speaking like this. I understand that it should be important, I understand that it is better to finish third than fourth, but for, me my takeaway is that we just didn't get to the final.
Yes, finishing third would be great for our image. We would be on the podium. We have really, really pushed our players to the limits, but they still want to go out tomorrow and play again. But we are not going to be taking risks tomorrow for some of our players."
This match is most likely the last international appearance of Croatia's star captain Luka Modric.
Let's take a quick look at what happened on the third place play-off:
Croatia vs Morocco
Outcome: Croatia 2 - Morocco 1
It was only 7 minutes into the game when Josko Gvardiol made the first score for Croatia.
It came from a clever set piece play, with Majer's free kick floated into the edge of the box for Ivan Perisic. The forward headed the ball back inside to Gvardiol, whose brilliant diving header found the back of the net.
Not to be outdone, Achraf Dari also knocks the header into the net, and scored one for Morocco in the 9th minute.
As Croatia was attempting to make another goal late in the first half, it seemed like Morocco had it under control, but the Atlas Lions lost possession on the edge of the box. Croatia then steered the ball to Orsić, who was positioned away from where the Moroccan defense had concentrated. The forward chipped it beautifully over the head of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, off the right-hand post and into the net.
Mislav Orsic's second goal for Croatia in the first half potentially sealed Morocco's fate.
Croatia managed to keep its 2-1 lead in a tense, scoreless second half, thereby defeating Morocco to claim a third-place finish at the 2022 World Cup.
Morocco finishes its history-making run in 4th place - a great effort overall, since the team still made it far deeper in the tournament than most analysts predicted.
Croatia captain Luka Modric, considered as one of the greatest midfielders in soccer history, led his team onto a podium for a quick medal ceremony after winning the third place play-off in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The winner of the third place play-off gets to take home the bronze medal and $27 million in prize money. The losers then get $2 million less, and no medals.
3rd/4th Place play-off
December 17 (Sat)
Croatia 2 - Morocco
*Dates according to GMT timezone
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