Morocco became the first Arab nation to reach the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup with a win over Canada while Belgium’s golden generation once again failed at the biggest stage after drawing with Croatia.
Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri scored within 23 minutes to give Morroco a comfortable lead at the Al Thumama Stadium before an own goal by Nayef Aguerd in the 40th minute cued a dramatic second half.
Morocco, needing a win or a draw to progress after upsetting Belgium, held off the already eliminated Canada’s attack in the second stanza to seal their place in the knockout phases of a FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Meanwhile, Belgium failed to beat Croatia in the other Group F match at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium eliminating them from the competition in the group stages.
Touted as Belgium’s golden generation, they had one last shot at glory but failed to beat Dominik Livaković in Croatia’s goal even one during the 0-0 draw.
Instead, it was Croatia that dominated from the first whistle and had a chance inside the opening 20 seconds but Ivan Perisic blazed his shot over the bar.
His miss set the tone for the rest of the match as the two teams traded chances but no one grabbed the opportunity to score.
VAR took away a spot kick from Croatia in the first half in the only notable action from the opening period before Romelu Lukaku missed two gilt-edged chances for Belgium in the second half to see his side crash out.
Because of the draw, Morocco qualifies as group winners ahead of Croatia.