World Cup: Croatia rally to silence John Herdman’s Canada
Croatia absorbed an early blow before revving into gear at the World Cup with two goals from Andrej Kramaric securing a 4-1 victory over Canada on Sunday that moved them a point away from the last 16 and dashed their opponents’ knockout-stage hopes.
Croatia’s hackles were up going into the match after Canada coach John Herdman had said his side were going to “eff” them. The 2018 runners-up then fell behind after 68 seconds at the Khalifa International Stadium when Alphonso Davies thumped a header into the net. But a potentially grim evening turned in their favour with two goals late in the first half.
After their dour opening draw with Morocco had instigated a post-mortem into whether this Croatia side lacked a killer instinct, Kramaric and Marko Livaja found the net before the break to take the wind out of Canada’s sails.
Kramaric doubled his tally after the break and Lovro Majer netted in stoppage time to wrap up a victory that moved Croatia to the top of Group F on four points. They now need only a draw in their final game against third-placed Belgium, who are a point behind, to guarantee a knockout spot.
Hope for future
Canada fulfilled at least some of their World Cup objectives despite exiting at the group stage — scoring their first goal in the history of the tournament and showing they can battle some of the world’s top sides.
In a country where ice hockey dominates the public psyche, John Herdman’s boys have shown — in two consecutive losses, one to second-ranked Belgium and the other to 2018 finalists Croatia — they can challenge, though not consistently beat, sides with more experience and depth.
Al Rayyan: Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz praised striker Robert Lewandowski after their 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia on Saturday and said that with a bit of luck his top man could have ended the game with a hattrick.
Lewandowski scored his first-ever World Cup goal after he missed a penalty in their opening draw with Mexico, and was visibly emotional after finally finding the net.
“I wasn’t surprised because I know how emotionally he took the last game,” Michniewicz said. “It’s a pity he didn’t get lucky, because he also hit the post and had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who miraculously, deflected the ball. Today Robert could have scored a hat-trick.”