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Croatia, Morocco draw

Croatia, runners-up four years ago, started their World Cup campaign with a goalless draw against a well-drilled Morocco at Al Bayt Stadium.

Only four players from their final defeat by France in 2018 started this game and they lacked an attacking spark throughout, but came closest through Nikola Vlasic’s toe-poked effort.

Morocco were impressive, but failed to create clear-cut opportunities.

Croatia dominated possession as expected, but they were unable to create opportunities or break down Morocco, who have only lost two of their past 40 games across three years.

The best chance of a match that had only two shots on target from each side came in first-half stoppage time, when a left-wing cross was diverted towards goal by Vlasic, but the midfielder on loan at Torino from West Ham was denied by the right leg of Yassine Bounou, who spread himself to close down the angle.

Morocco, who are ranked 22nd, came closest when Noussair Mazraoui followed in a deflected shot and saw a back-post header saved.

It was a game largely played in the middle third of the pitch, with both sides potentially wary of losing and damaging their chances of progressing to the knockout stages from a group that also contains Belgium and Canada.

Croatia will play Canada in their next match on Sunday while Morocco face Belgium on the same day. –BBC

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