DOHA :The Belgians had chance after chance to win, but never utilized it to score against Croatia. While minutes ticked off for Belgium, relentlessly and perpetually, it probed and pressed, though it was far too late.
Eventually, Belgium lost by tying Croatia. The 0-0 draw was substantial to send Croatia, the 2018 runners-up, through to the elimination phase, which has long been Belgium’s realm. However, for the first time since 1998, Belgium failed to advance out of group play, fulfilling the prophecy some of its players have flourished at this tournament — the collective is good enough to get here but not tenacious enough to do anything more than score a single, solitary goal across three matches. Lukaku alone could have scored three or more after coming on at the half. A single shot dented the goal post. Another, off his head mere minutes later, flew over the crossbar.
“Martinez says the pressure of expectation was affecting his players in the first two games, but will not be a problem today. Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic, agrees, insisting that rumours of Belgium’s demise are greatly exaggerated. We are about to find out for certain in a crunch Group F clash” -Evening Standard
The potential one and only outcome could have escorted Belgium through, restoring the sheen to a group cleaved by dysfunction and despair, and it eluded the opposition in a match that, nearing its climactic phase, lacked the intensity expected from a colossal moment. With the Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, there was an obvious elimination for Belgium — at this World Cup, and, perhaps, for a group of which much was anticipated. .
Croatia: Livakovic; Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic
Belgium: Courtois; Castagne, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Carrasco; De Bruyne, E. Hazard; Batshuayi
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