In the Khalifa International Stadium, logic finally prevailed. Croatia avoided Sunday's third upset despite Canada's initial scare. The world runner-up brought out the winning character and reacted in time to achieve the first win in Qatar. Zlatko Dalic's men sent home one of the hosts of the 2026 World Cup, a promising team, plenty of energy and fun to watch in attack but with still too many defensive deficiencies.
The game could not have started better for Canada. If against Belgium he could only be blamed for his lack of success, this time the goal came at the first substitution. He did it thanks to Alphonso Davies in minute two. Powerful jump and headbutt directly into the back of the net by the Bayern Munich footballer, the great reference of this team and who exemplifies better than anyone what a country like Canada represents: a land of welcome for thousands of migrants, some fleeing the war , like Davies himself, of Liberian parents and born in a refugee camp in Ghana 22 years ago.
The 2022 of the left-back was not being easy. At the beginning of the year they detected a heart disease that set off all the alarms. He then got injured just before the World Cup and it was questioned whether he could be on the pitch in his debut. Against the Belgians, the penalty that would have given the Americans an advantage was missed, so that header was a way of getting even for that mistake. A historic goal as it was Canada's first in a World Cup – in Mexico '86, his only previous participation, he went unscored – which occurred at the same time as the achievement of the first Davis Cup was celebrated. Sunday could not be round.
The carefree soccer of the Canadians in the first minutes disconcerted Croatia. The world runner-up was already facing the match with doubts after the bland draw against Morocco, but they grew when they saw the physical display of the cheerful rival, with Davies in a stellar plan -total freedom of movement- and with the fast Buchanan leaving flashes of his quality. However, the Achilles heel of this team is the defense, and to which the Balkans brought out their winning character to Canada, the seams burst.
Kramaric warned that the game would be long for Canada. John Herdman's, an atypical selector, had scored too soon. He is his first men's World Cup, but he has been present in three women's (two leading New Zealand and one Canada). Kramaric's first goal with a subtle strike did not go up on the scoreboard due to previous offside. The Hoffenheim striker, one of the survivors of the final in Russia 2018, would not forgive with his left foot minutes later to start putting things in his place.
Livaja, who entered the eleven in place of the injured Vlasic, would turn the score around just before the break. The downpour of Croatian occasions left a short score. Canada that was crying out for rest to charge the battery.
Herdman introduced a double change at the restart. The recently entered Osorio was about to achieve the match. However, the party had already taken a direction and was immovable. The Harlequin team continued to harass Borjan, who kept Canada alive as he could with his saves. Nothing could be done twenty minutes from the end. Once again Kramaric, now after extraordinary control, made it 3-1 on the scoreboard.
Canada did not give up, desperately looking for a goal that would keep them alive, but Croatia was closer to fourth. This came already in regulation time, the work of Majer, in a much calmer game than it seemed in the previous one. The crossover of statements in the preview - the Canadian coach said they were going to "fuck" the Croats and they didn't like that in the Balkans - came to nothing on the pitch.
Croatia, with four points, is the group leader with one point more than Morocco and Belgium, the latter the next rival. Canada is the second team eliminated after Qatar.
4 - Croatia: Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Dejan Lovren, Josko Guardiol, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric (Mario Pasalic, m.86), Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic (Lovro Majer, m.86); Marko Livaja (Bruno Petkovic, m.61), Ivan Perisic (Mislav Orsic, m.86) and Andrej Kramaric (Nikola Vlasic, m.72).
1 - Canada: Milan Borjan; Ailstair Johnson, Steven Victoria; Richie Laryea (Junior Hoilett, m.62), Atiba Hutchinson (Sam Adekugbe, m.72), Stephen Eustaquio (Ishmael Kone, m.46), Alphonso Davies; Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin (Jonathan Osorio, m.46) and Jonathan David (Lucas Cavallini, m.72).
Goals: 0-1, m.2: Alphonso Davies; 1-1, m.37 Andrej Kramaric; 2-1, m.44: Marko Livaja; 3-1, m.69: Andrej Kramaric; 4-1, m.93: Lovro Majer.
Referee: Andrés Matonte (URU). He showed yellow cards to Dejan Lovren and Luka Modric, from Croatia and Tajon Buchanan and Kamal Miller, from Canada.
Incidents: match of the second day of Group F of the Qatar 2022 world championship played at the Khalifa stadium in Doha before 44,374 spectators.