FIFA World Cup: Luka Modric signs off with a bronze

Croatian legend Luka Modric bids farewell to the world stage with bronze as Croatia finishes third in the World Cup beating Morocco.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 18 December, 2022 12:49 am IST
Croatia skipper Luka Modric played his final match at World Cup (Photo Courtesy Twitter @FIFAWorldCup)

Luka Modric might not have the aura of Lionel Messi. But the impact of this skinny-looking Croatian midfield general will reverberate for ages, as Modric ended his World Cup career with a bronze medal.

Goals from Josko Gvardiol and Mislav Orsic helped Croatia, who were runners-up four years ago, pull the curtains on Morocco’s fairytale run in the tournament with a 2-1 win in the third-place match on Sunday.

While Croatia will hope that the talismanic Modric continues to play at least until Euro 2024, the fact remains that the legendary midfielder said his final farewell on the game’s grandest stage at the age of 37.

Gvardiol, one of the most exciting names in the side, gave Croatia a seventh-minute lead at Khalifa International Stadium. Although Achraf Dari quickly brought Morocco level, Orsic’s brilliant finish just before halftime finally settled the matter.

Josko Gvardiol (in mask) scored the opening goal for Croatia (Photo Courtesy Twitter @FIFAWorldCup)

 

While both teams will rue the missed opportunity to play in the final, the fact is that despite the concerns, both teams looked determined to end their campaign on a high.

Gvardiol’s super header into the left corner came in the seventh minute of the game after Lovro Majer’s free-kick into the penalty area was skilfully nodded towards the penalty spot by Ivan Perisic.

With the goal, the hugely talented player became his country’s youngest World Cup scorer at 20 years and 328 days. But most importantly, Gvardiol’s performance also meant that he has the ability to bounce back from Messi’s masterclass, which was evident during their semi-final clash.

For Perisic, the assist means he has had 11 goal involvements since the start of the 2014 World Cup. He is only behind Messi (16) at the World Cup in that period.

However, Morocco, who rode on a history-making run, found the equaliser just two minutes later with Dari applying a close-range finish with his head after Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick from the right flank was sent looping up by a heavy touch off Majer.

Despite their loss, Morocco have every reason to be proud of themselves (Photo Courtesy Twitter @FIFAWorldCup)

 

Yassine Bounou, who caught the attention of the world with some notable performances, almost sliced a pass into his own net early on, but the Morocco goalkeeper was sharp enough to keep out a low strike from Modric.

However, he was beaten in the 42nd minute by an exquisite finish from Orsic, who arched the ball over the goalkeeper from just inside the left edge of the penalty area, the shot going in off the far post.

This was Modric’s 19th and last World Cup game. In Qatar, he became the first outfield player aged 37 or older to play in more than six games in a single World Cup.

While Modric has confirmed this will be his last match on this stage, it is perhaps the same for another key Croatian player, Perisic, who turns 34 in February. Both men played in three consecutive World Cups (2014, 2018, 2022) starting every game (all 17) for Croatia. Only Lionel Messi (also 17) has started as many games at the World Cup during this period.

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