Doha, Nov 27 (EFE).- Although Canada played superbly for the opening stretch of its Group F World Cup match against Croatia at Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, the Balkan squad clearly had more stamina and skill, cruising to a 4-1 victory that put them atop the group.
Alphonso Davies got the Canadians out in front on a neat header just 66 seconds into play – the first goal ever scored by the team in a men’s World Cup – but in the 37th minute the Croatians began to dismantle them, going up 2-1 by the break and then scoring twice more after play resumed.
With the loss, Canada has no chance to move into the Round of 16 and thus has been eliminated from further advanced-level competition, just like the squad of Qatar, the host nation.
It was Andrej Kramaric scoring in the 37th minute on an assist from Ivan Perisic, and then Marko Livaja seven minutes later that put the Croatians ahead before halftime.
The Canadians, coached by John Herdman, had come out with fire in their bellies after their earlier lost to Belgium, and early on they played great, manufacturing chance after chance albeit finding themselves unable to capitalize on any after Davies’ tally.
As the game wore on, however, Canada’s defense – where it lacks discipline, despite being a team with great physical potential – was pushed on the ropes, opening the way for Zlatko Dalic’s men to take the game in hand, although changes at halftime enabled the Canucks to stave off collapse until Kramaric scored once again in the 69th minute, virtually crushing the life out of the North American squad as key forward Jonathan David was replaced three minutes later.
Lovro Majer scored the final tally for the Croatians in stoppage time.
Croatia now sits on top of Group F, ahead of Morocco, with whom it is equal in points. Next, the team will go up against Belgium in a clash that will determine which one of them advances to the Round of 16.
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric (Mario Pasalic, m.86), Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic (Lovro Majer, m.86); Marko Livaja (Bruno Petkovic, m.61), Ivan Perisic (Mislav Orsic, m.86) and Andrej Kramaric (Nikola Vlasic, m.72).
Canada: Milan Borjan; Ailstair Johnson, Steven Vitoria, Kamal Miller; Richie Laryea (Junior Hoilett, m.62), Atiba Hutchinson (Sam Adekugbe, m.72), Stephen Eustaquio (Ismael Kone, m.46), Alphonso Davies; Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin (Jonathan Osorio, m.46) and Jonathan David (Lucas Cavallini, m.72).