Canada played a great 30 minutes in the match but Croatia's experience won out over the full 90 in a 4-1 victory over the Canucks Sunday. Alphonso Davies got redemption for his missed penalty versus Belgium by scoring a tidy header to put Canada ahead in the match for their first-ever goal at a men's World Cup, but they have now officially been eliminated in the group stage.
Scoring only 70 seconds into the match, Davies also netted the fastest goal of the World Cup in Qatar. But the btight start faded quickly as Andrej Kramaric's brace sank Canada, putting Croatia atop Group F. Canada can't qualify for the round of 16, joining Qatar as the only teams to be eliminated so far.
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Following coach John Herdman's comments after losing to Belgium where he said, "We're going to go in and 'eff Croatia, that's as simple as it gets," it seemed like his team bought into it to start. Tajon Buchanan was everywhere, assisting Davies' opener and creating chances after Croatia didn't have an answer for him, but once Canada couldn't find an insurance goal, Croatia quickly found the match.
Kramaric delivered a warning shot early when Croatia were offside in the buildup, but it was clear that Canada needed to adjust. On his second chance in the 36th minute, Kramaric brought things level and Croatia didn't look back. Ivan Perisic played him through as Canada's defense collapsed which was a sign of things to come. For the second consecutive match, Canada were looking for the halftime whistle allowing Croatia to score in the 44th minute to go ahead.
Canada were laboring and made two changes at the break with Jonathan Osorio and Ismael Kone coming in for Cyle Larin and Stephen Eustaquio to regain control in midfield. It worked a little with Davies having another chance but again Canada were only able to hold serve for about 30 minutes before Perisic pulled the strings, again assisting Kramaric. That third Croatia goal was deflating as star striker Jonathan David was withdrawn from the match.
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With only one shot on target during the World Cup so far, David hasn't been involved enough for Canada after netting nine goals in World Cup qualifying. Davies and Buchanan could only do so much heavy lifting in the Canada attack but this experience will be important for the World Cup in 2026 which is hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Not having to qualify for that World Cup, the Canucks will be able to hone their attacking talent and continue to ascend. But for Croatia, they kept their intensity for 90 minutes and in a two-on-one on Kamal Miller, they were able to grab an all-important fourth goal. Substitute Lovro Majer nabbed that one on Mislav Orsic's assist to send Croatia atop the group. Now they control their destiny needing only a point to make the last 16. That's what experienced teams do and Croatia are a team that Canada can learn from on the global stage.