Croatia hit back in style to end Canada's World Cup hopes
There was no handshake between the managers as they led their squads off the pitch, with the fallout from Eff-Gate still raging. Some took a dim view of John Herdman’s prediction to his players that “we’re going to go and ‘eff’ Croatia”, including Andrej Kramaric who ended up scoring twice against Canada to send them home.
“In the end Croatia demonstrated who effed who….” said Kramaric. “I have to say thanks to the head coach of Canada for the motivation. He could have chosen better words to express himself.”
It was slightly oversensitive to take such offence at the lowest ranked country in Group F, although Croatia have thrived when there is a bit of needle. Four years ago when they reached the final, they felt Football’s Coming Home sung by England fans was disrespectful.
This time it has been the comments of Herdman, whose infamous post-match interview was more naive than malicious. The result was Croatia players determined to humble Herdman’s players and they did just that despite Alphonso Davies’ scoring after 67 seconds.
With four minutes left, there was the sight of Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric trying to block a quick free-kick and then having a shoving match with Kamal Miller. It is almost like they need the anger to produce such masterful passing performances like at Khalifa International Stadium.
Herdman was asked if he regretted making his comments. “Not in the first 20 minutes,” was the answer. Davies had scored their first World Cup goal with a thumping header but failed to lay a glove on Croatia when Zlatko Dalic’s team got into their stride.
Kramaric, the former Leicester City striker who is now at Hoffenheim, levelled from a tight angle. Marko Livaja finished off a slick move before half-time, then Kramaric got his second by killing a powerful Ivan Perisic cross and finishing into the bottom corner. Lovro Majer added a fourth in stoppage-time just before the head coaches left without shaking hands.
“I did not see the other head coach after the match,” said Dalic. “Whether I lose or win, I congratulate the winner. He was not there and that’s his way of doing things. He’s obviously mad. He is a good coach, a high quality professional but it will take time for him to learn some things.”
Herdman, while saying he had no regrets over his comments, added: “I could have been a bit more composed when I came out of the huddle. I’ll take that on the chin. But we showed in the first 25 minutes that Canada can comepte with the best in the world.
“They might be celebrating now but it was not an easy night and there was pride in our performance. There is a respect there for Croatia. We’re here to push as far as we can and to change the mentality.”
Croatia, fuelled by his comments, cut through Canada with Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic their driving force. As Herdman attempted to man-mark Modric, it meant Kovacic was running the game from his position just in front of the backline. He blocked Canada’s way to goal and carried his team forward in possession.
In Kramaric they also have a forward who will benefit from the service of Perisic’s crosses as well as the playmakers Croatia have sitting deep. “It is a special moment for me and my family and primarily it is an important victory for us but nothing is over yet and we have to be prepared for Belgium,” said Kramaric, who was loaned out when Leicester won the title and he was at the club.
They still need a point against Belgium but on the evidence of Sunday’s matches, Croatia are a team on an upward trajectory while their opponents in the final group game are going in the other direction.
Which Croatian star shone brightest for you?
Rate the players here.
FT: Croatia 4 Canada 1
And it's all over at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Sadly, despite scoring early today, Canada are eliminated from the World Cup with a game to go.
You feel the score-line is harsh but they are well and truly schooled by a much more experienced side. Croatia cut them to pieces way too often and have announced themselves at this World Cup after a lackluster performance against Morocco.
But there are brighter days ahead for this young and spirited Canadian side.
90+4 min: Croatia 4 Canada 1
And that is game, set and match for Croatia.
It was a horror show for Miller in the Canadian defence which allows Orsic to charge forward totally unchallenged. That draw keeper Borjan from his line and square Major, who slots it home.
90+2: Croatia 3 Canada 1
And of course there is added time- six minutes in fact. Anyone for some late drama? #
There have been some chances for Canada as Junior Hoilett clearly fancies one tonight. He first sees a shot blocked after Davies' cross is cleared before firing one just a yard or two pas the left-hand post.
90 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
Since the third Croatian goal went in, there hasn't been much of a response from this Canadian side. Sadly, you feel their race is run at this point in Qatar. Looking ahead to Thursday, Croatia's game with Belgium is looking very interesting indeed as it's likely one of them will be going out of this group.
What a cracker we have instore!
88 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
We have a triple Croatian change coming up, as Perisic, Modric and Kovacic make way for Orsic, Pasalic and Majer on to see out this game.
85 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
Another shot as Ivan Perisic lines up a shot from the edge of the box, but he knew it was going wide. He's got two assists so far in this game but surely he would love a goal to round off the night.
82 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
That should have been four!
Brozovic had that laid on a plate for him by Kovacic but he shoots straight at the feet of Borjan. The keeper has been magnificent but he won't be thanking his midfield who have been non-existent in his half. They have allowed Croatia forward way too easy.
80 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
Another important save from Canadian keeper Borjan, who first denies the shot from Ivan Perisic at his near post and then he keeps out another shot from Brozovic.
77 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
You sense Canada's belief is slipping away now as Hoilett takes aim from around 20 yards or so, but it is a disappointing effort which is well wide.
74 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
No hat-trick for Andre Kramaric for the forward today as Vlasic is on in his place.
Hutchinson and David also replaced for Canada with Adekugbe and Cavallini brought on.
70 min: Croatia 3 Canada 1
That was way too easy for Croatia as Perisic looks up on the left channel and pings a brilliant ball over to Kramaric. One touch takes the ball away from his Canadian marker and the second flashes across the goal and it goes into the bottom corner.
You have to feel for Canada, as they are heading out of the World Cup unless they can come up with some magic!
68 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
Goal-scorer Livaja is off for Croatia with Bruno Petkovic is on his place. Straight swap as Dalic looks to add some fresh legs to his side.
John Herdman also makes a change with Junior Hoilett for Laryea.
65 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
As the game enters the final 25 minutes, Croatia continue to edge the possession statistics with 53% and are threatening to extend their lead.
But fair-play to Canada, they are pushing too and with only goal at the moment separating these two sides, we could be in for an emphatic finish.
62 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
Canada win a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Davies is a little ambitious with his attempt. He has a shot but it is slammed straight into the Croatian wall.
He needed to really cross there rather than take the shot. But you cannot falter his determination to keep his country's World Cup hopes alive.
59 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
Canada are really living on the edge, as they lose the ball on the edge of their own box and Perisic has the opportunity to cross, but he puts it straight into the hands of Borjan.
Yet again, a massive let-off for Canada!
56 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
Now Canada go up on the end and what a save from Croatian keeper Livaković. The ball comes to David on the edge of the box and his effort his just tipped over!
53 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
That is a huge save from Brojan, who may have just kept Canada's World Cup hopes alive.
Luka Modric is down the right-hand channel and he puts a low ball across for Kramaric. However, his shot from 12 yards out and is saved well by the goal-keeper.
50 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
A nicely timed ball from Sosa, who whip it in from the left that just evades the head of Perisic at the near post.
The Canadian keeper Borjan can't gather but his defence clear their lines.
48 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
What a chance for Canada! That was so close as Osorio goes so near to finding the equaliser Canada desperately need. He shoots from 20 yards out after finding some decent space, but his effort just drifts past the post!
A big performance is needed from Canada and that is the ideal start for them!
45 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
We are back under way in Qatar. Ismael Kono and Jonanthan Osorio are on for Canada as manager John Herdman makes two half-time changes Cyle Larin and Stephen Estuaquio make way.
HT: Rate the players so far
HT: Croatia 2 Canada 1
That really was tale of two halves. Canada took an early lead courtesy of an emphatic finish from Alphonso Davies- their first ever World Cup goal. But you sense Croatia's experience meant they were able to take hold and goals from Kramaric and Livaja have turned things right around for Croatia.
As the result stands, Canada will be eliminated from the World Cup- an important 45 minutes ahead for John Herdman's side.
45+3: Croatia 2 Canada 1
Five minutes of additional time and Croatia certainly have their tails up. Perisic dances beautifully down the left and times a neat pass to Kramaric. He takes a nice touch from 20 yeards, which is blazed straight over.
Canada have to cautious here.
44 min: Croatia 2 Canada 1
From Mike McGrath at the Khalifa International Stadium
Marko Livaja puts Croatia in the lead with a low drive from the edge of the box. He was set up by Josip Juranovic smuggling the ball through to him. Excellent passing move!
41 min: Croatia 1 Canada 1
Well you can't keep the FC Porto midfielder down as he returns to his feet and we carry on at the Khalifa International Stadium
39 min: Croatia 1 Canada 1
There is slight concern for Canadian manager John Herdman as Eustaquio is down and receiving some treatment.
36 min: Croatia 1 Canada 1
It was coming as Croatia were going in threat. Just before the goal, Kovacic was becoming more and more influential as he threads a pass through to Kramaric and his effort is pushed just wide by the Canadian keeper.
Right now about the goal, it was a brilliant reverse pass from Perisic to find Kramaric and he slots it just past Borjan from the tightest of angles.
So we are all square in this Group F clash!
32 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Canadian superstar Alphonso Davies has the quickest goal after kickoff at this World Cup with his 68th second strike.
30 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Some threat from Croatia as Kovacic plays a sublime ball forward through to Perisic. His first touch is decent, but is second is so poor and it allows Buchanan to get back at him and make the challenge.
28 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Canada are able to win a free-kick in a decent area and goal-scorer Davies whips it in nicely, but Croatia are able to clear their lines.
25 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Kramaric has the ball in the back of the net as he latches onto a pass from Livaja before finishing in the bottom hand corner.
However, the flag goes up as Livaja was well off-side in the build-up play. That should waken the Canadian's defensive a little.
21 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Well a half chance for Croatia as Kovacic goes for a run and he jinks into the box and then attempts to poke one through for Livaja. But the striker is just ahead, so can only get a toe and in the end he harmlessly prods into the hands of Canadian keeper Borjan.
17 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Croatia are stunned by Canada's early goal, and are struggling to get a handle on this match so far.
The possession stats have just appeared and through the first 11 minutes, Croatia haven't managed a single shot to show for their 64% possession advantage.
15 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Alphonso Davies' strike is the only shot on goal far in the opening 15 minutes of action at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Sosa tries to whip one in from the left-hand side that Borjan unconvincingly deals with by punching it to the edge of the box. Juranovic then tries to find Perisic back in the area, but it runs just pas him and Croatia give away a free-kick.
12 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Croatia are trying to apply pressure in the midfield but it seems Canada are happy to sit in and wait for the counter when they can.
From Mike McGrath at the Khalifa International Stadium
Canada ahead after 67 seconds through Alphonso Davies, scoring the country's first goal at the World Cup. He finished off a beautiful move with a thumping header. It started with Milan Borjan's punt into midfield and worked out to Tajon Buchanan, who picked out Davies with his cross. Canada subs went sprinting down the touchline to celebrate.
9 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Goal-scorer Davies wonders inside the box and attempts to thread a pass through to Larin. However, the Canadian striker had gone a tad early and is now flagged offside.
7 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Croatia are able to come forward for the first time as Kramaric is able to twist and turn and then crosses into the box, but it is deflected off Laryea into the arms of Borjan- who is able to gather at the second attempt.
4 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
What a finish from Davies- he missed the penalty in the opener against Belgium and you could see the determination he had to make up for it.
His leap and the power he put into the header.
2 min: Croatia 0 Canada 1
Canada have scored their first ever goal at the World Cup!
It is no surprise who has scored this, as Davies charges forward into the box to latch onto a sublime Buchanan cross and powers a header past the Croatian keeper.
At the Khalifa International Stadium, the very least Croatia will want is a much-improved performance after the 0-0 draw against Morocco.
The teams are out on the pitch and it's national anthem time
Huge noise from the sizable Canadian contingent.
Who to watch in this Croatian side?
It has to be Luka Modric who holds the key in the midfield department. He pulled the strings in Croatia’s match with Morocco and was recognised as the player of the match for the outing.
Who to watch in this Canada's team?
All eyes will be on 22-year-old superstar Alphonso Davies and he will be eager to redeem himself.
Davies failed to convert a penalty kick against Belgium.
Want to know more about the team
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The warm ups are in full swing
Fancy your skills of prediction
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Here come the fans
All smiles at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Morocco beat Belgium
A huge result in the other game in the group F, as Morocco have just beaten Belgium 2-0 to move top of the group with four points- follow all the latest reaction right here.
Khalifa International Stadium, which sits 11km west of central Doha, boasts a capacity of 45,857. The stadium, constructed in 1976, received a sleek facelift for the 2022 World Cup.
Who banks the points today?
I'm backing Canada to not only break that World Cup goal scoring duck, but take points off Croatia in the process.
So an entertaining 2-2 draw for me- you're turn to make your predictions right here.
Both teams have made just one change from their opening games and they are both attacking changes as they seek a first goal at this World Cup.
Canada have handed a start to forward Cyle Larin in place of Junior Hoilett while Croatia have brought in forward Marko Livaja in place for Nikola Vlasic.
Croatia XI: Livakovic, Perisic, Lovren, Kovacic, Kramaric, Modric (c), Brozovic, Livaja, Sosa, Gvardiol, Juranovic
Substitutes: Gbric, Ivusic, Stanisic, Barisic, Erlic, Majer, Vlasic, Pasalic, Petkovic, Budimir, Orsic, Sutalo, Sucic, Jakic
Canada XI: Hutchinson, Borjan, Johnston, Miller, Vitoria, eustaquio, Buchanan, Larin, Davies, David, Laryea
Substitutes: Adehugbe, Cavallini, Cornelius, Fraser, Holiet, Haye, Hone, Millar, Osorio, Pantemis, Piette, St.Clair, Ugbo, Waterman, Wotherspoon
Welcome to Telegraph's Sport live coverage of this Group F clash between Croatia and Canada live from the Khalifa International Stadium with kick-off at 4pm (UK time)
Both sides would have felt they should have won their opening fixture. The 2018 finalists were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw against Morocco as they struggled to find that clinical edge in a game were chances were premium.
Canada's opening match was their first in a World Cup since 1986, proved to be slightly more entertaining. They performance belied their experience on this stage as their high press and sharp movement suffocated Belgium.
Their opponents conceded a penalty in only the 10th minutes of the game but Canadian star Alphonso Davies had his attempt saved by Thibaut Courtois.
However, their nerve didn't waver and despite having Belgium on the back foot for the majority of the first half, they conceded late in the first half. Their intensity fell during the second half and Belgium were able to hold on for a 1-0 win.
After the match, their manager John Herdman pulled the players into a huddle after the game, where he applauded their performance in rather fruitful language and told them they'd defeat Croatia.
You have to say, Herdman's rallying cry to his players, isn't such a far fetched prospect. Although Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic are brilliant midfield technicians, they may struggle against the pace of this Canadian side.
They overran the Belgium midfield forcing manager Roberto Martinez into bringing on two defensive midfielders at half time.
Luka Modric is key to Croatia's success at this World Cup. He is able to dictate play and was judged to be player of the match for his performance against Morocco.
Will Croatia's experience be enough to overcome a spirited Canadian side?
Stay tuned as we bring you team news, build-up, full match coverage and reaction.