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Croatia held to draw by Morocco in World Cup opener

Croatia held to draw by Morocco in World Cup opener

Morocco and Croatia have played out a goalless draw in their World Cup opener on Wednesday.

Croatia, the 2018 runners-up, would have been hoping to make a positive start at the Al Bayt Stadium, but they were matched for large periods by their African opponents.

In a game which featured few clear-cut chances, Morocco will be more satisfied with the share of the spoils ahead of fellow Group F teams Belgium and Canada meeting later in the day.

Both teams would have been satisfied with their fast start to the contest in Al Khor, but it was not until the 17th minute when a noteworthy shot on goal occurred as Ivan Perisic send a long-range effort marginally off target.

Nikola Vlasic goes close for Croatia against Morocco in their World Cup fixture on November 23, 2022.© Reuters

At the other end, Youssef En-Nesyri should have done much better with a header from an inswinging cross, the Sevilla forward failing to make proper contact when he would have expected to put Morocco in front.

The intensity from the opening quarter had ramifications for the second as the action dried up, but Croatia twice went close in the minutes before the half-time whistle.

Yassine Bounou made a terrific block at his near post to deny Nikola Vlasic from close range, before Luka Modric sent a first-time strike from the edge of the area marginally over the crossbar.

After the restart, Noussair Mazraoui saw a header saved at the near post by Dominik Livakovic, while Morocco had to be alert to from a corner at the other end with the ball twice being cleared from in front of goal.

Morocco living dangerously against Croatia in their World Cup fixture on November 23, 2022.© Reuters

However, as the clock ticked past the hour mark, the match had again lost its spark, something which Achraf Hakimi looked to change with a blistering 30-yard strike which needed to be punched away by Livakovic.

That proved to be a false dawn as Morocco started to sit deeper, inviting pressure from Croatia and successfully negotiating any balls which were delivered into the box.

Although Morocco mustered rare flurries on the counter-attack, neither side looked like scoring during the closing stages, leaving Walid Regragui and Zlatko Dalic to settle for a point apiece.

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