Croatia’s winning streak against African teams ended when Achraf Hakimi’s Morocco challenged the 2018 runners-up.
Croatia was held in a tough match against Morocco at their World Cup opener, with the game ending in a goalless draw.
Morocco fans flooded Al Bayt Stadium in the city of Al Khor with all eyes peeking on Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric, who is playing his last World Cup.
First-choice goalkeeper for the Croatian squad, Dominik Livakovic, swiped off an easy shot from Noussair Mazraoui in the 7th minute of the match.
Holding a solid wall, Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick was no match for the Croatia defence.
Ziyech and Morocco’s star Achraf Hakimi played well, controlling the ball to an equivalent of Croatia, maintaining most of the possession.
Modric paired up with Marcelo Brozovic, leaving the Moroccan defence nervous late in the second half. Yet, both players were far from hitting the net.
On the attack, Nikola Vlasic had a clear-cut chance to reach the goal, but was denied by Moroccan keeper Yassine Bounou.
At halftime, the Croatians only had one shot on target, despite keeping 58.9% possession of the ball.
Morocco show heart
Morocco’s Yahya Attiat-Allah replaced Noussair Mazraoui because of an injury; this was the first substitution for the North Africans.
In the 64th minute, Ziyech assisted Hakimi, who pounded in a right-foot shot that Livakovic saved.
Nordin Amrabat gets booked for a yellow as he fouled Modric in the 78th minute.
With both teams finishing level, it’s Morocco that will savour the result against 2018’s finalists.
The Atlas Lions will go on to face group favourites Belgium on Sunday, when Croatia will play Canada.