Morocco and Croatia shared the spoils in a hotly contested Group F World Cup opener as they settled for a goalless draw.
Morocco: Yassine Bounou; Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss, Nayef Aguerd, Noussair Mazraoui; Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat; Hakim Ziyech, Selim Amallah, Sofiane Boufal; Youssef En-Nesyri.
Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan lovren, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic; Nikola Vlasic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic.
It was the first encounter between the two sides at the FIFA World Cup, with Croatian going with a bit of an advantage based on the records.
While Morrocco has made it six times to the World Cup, they have never proceed from the group stage, but Croatia finishhed as finalists in the last edition of the tournament.
Croatia dominated play as the match began and unleashed threats on Morocco’s defence. Ivan Perisic came close just in the second minute of play but missed a chance to put the Croatians ahead.
It was still Croatia dominating play as the game progressed, but they could not make it count with the Moroccan defence on top of their game
Morocco also came across some chance when they were with the ball. They relied heavily on counter-attacks to unleash threats at the Croatian defence.
In the 18th minute, the North Africans nearly made it count. Ziyech had whipped in a cross into the box targeting En-Nesyri, who missed the header that would have made a difference.
Croatian returned to their possession and made some attempts on goal in the 20th minute of play.
They nearly nailed it in the 22nd minute Kramaric led a counter but missed the attempt forcing the Croatians for a corner kick.
Towards the closing minutes of the first half, Morocco came across a series of chances but failed to convert them.
The first half finally ended with both sides not being able to find the back of the net.
Croatia proved to be the better side after the first half but could not make it to count. Morocco were looking dangerous when charging forward, but they could not test the Croatian goalkeeper.
Just like the start of the first half, Croatia still maintained dominance as the second half began.
Croatia took charge, but there was another great opportunity for Morocco in the 51st minute. Moroccan had their first shot on target wire Mazraoui’s header but was denied by the Croatian goalkeeper.
Croatia picked up their game after Mazraoui’s attempt and dominated play as the game progressed.
But they could not break through the Moroccan defense and were frustrated inside their opponent’s half.
Meanwhile, Morocco gradually emerged into the game and asserted their dominance.
They were pressing Croatia hard and were making attempts to break into the opponent’s penalty box. However, they did not test the Croatian goalkeeper, except for a 62nd-minute freekick which was saved.
Croatia finds it difficult to cope with the Moroccans’ high press. But after a while, they regained dominance in the 70th minute of play and looked set to mount pressure again.
They had a free kick again and a corner kick again, but could not find the back of the net with few minutes remaining in the game.
Both sides shared the spoils as they settled for a goalless draw after the final whistle.