Romelu Lukaku misfired as Belgium eliminated while Morocco beat Canada to be the first African side to top a World Cup group in 24 years.
World Cup 2022 – Group F concluded with Belgium were eliminated, and Morocco and Croatia advanced as first place and runner-up, respectively.
- Hakim Ziyech and En-Nesyri scored as Morocco topped group F
- Romelu Lukaku missed a poker of chances as Belgium eliminated
- Morocco facing Spain, Croatia battling Japan in the round of 16
Canada 1-2 Morocco
The Atlas Lions of Morocco finished top of Group F, becoming the first African nation to top a group at the World Cup since Nigeria in 1998.
And those were all thanks to two goals by Hakim Ziyech and En-Nesyri against Canada, while Nayef Aguerd’s own goal — the first of the tournament.
One point would guarantee Walid Regragui’s side a place in the knock-out stages for the only second time since 1986. But they did more than just that, with a perfect start after 4 minutes.
Steven Vitoria’s backpass to Milan Borjan was a little short and the goalkeeper compounded the error his pass to Ziyech to chip the ball into an empty net from 25 yards.
Canada looked vulnerable every time Morocco came forward and soon later came the second goal midway through the first half.
Achraf Hakimi’s long ball from right-back exposed centre-half Kamal Miller and En-Nesyri ran on to it before firing under Borjan.
Having posed no attacking threat whatsoever, Canada halved the deficit five minutes before the break.
The only goal that Canada could score was actually a…own-goal by Aguerd during the defender’s effort blocking the ball left keeper Yassine Bounou unable to keep it out at his near post.
En-Nesyri thought he got himself a brace before the break, but his effort was ruled out due to Aguerd blocking Borjan’s view from an offside position
Morocco held on, though, and a goalless draw in the other pool game between Croatia and Belgium put the African side as top of group F.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium
The former world ranking #1 were eliminated after the 0-0 draw with Croatia, in a night to forget to Romelu Lukaku.
The first half was low-quality with the only notable moment was overturned Croatia penalty, even though Luka Modric was ready to take the shot.
Yannick Carrasco’s challenge on Andrej Kramaric was overturned for offside against Dejan Lovren in the build-up.
After a frustrating first half, Lukaku was brought on at half-time, only to be, well, even more frustrating for Red Devils.
The former Manchester United wasted a few big chances, hitting the post from one of them but the match finished goalless as Belgium suffered a shock exit.
His presence on the pitch was supposed to bring the game more to life, however, he missed a poker of chances, from tap-in to header and missed it wide.
The biggest miss was still to come as Lukaku failed to help the ball over the line from a couple of yards when Thorgan Hazard’s cross was missed by Lovren, meaning elimination for Belgium and a second-place finish behind Morocco for Croatia.
No player has missed more Big Chances at the entire 2022 World Cup than Romelu Lukaku did in 45 minutes against Croatia (4).
What’s next for Morocco and Belgium
Morocco as group F’s winner, will be facing Spain as group E already concluded.
Meanwhile, runner-up Croatia will be battling Japan, in the round of 16.
Belgium now have a near-four-month wait before facing Sweden in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier.
How to bet on world cup qualifiers for the interesting next-round matches.