Canada eliminated from World Cup after dispiriting loss to Croatia

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Alphonso Davies scored Canada's first-ever men's World Cup goal Sunday. John Herdman's team just couldn't make history of a different kind.

Canada was eliminated from knockout-stage contention with a game still to play in Group F after losing 4-1 to 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia in Al Rayyan.

Davies scored just 68 seconds into the contest, but Croatia responded before halftime through Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja. Kramaric and substitute Lovro Majer ended Canada's hopes of an unlikely comeback with goals in the 70th and 94th minutes.

Canada has now lost all five of its World Cup matches, including last Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Belgium and the three losses the men's national team suffered in its only other tournament appearance in 1986.

Croatia leads Group F with four points, narrowly ahead of Morocco on goal difference. Belgium is in third, while Canada sits bottom without a point.


Canada needed at least a point Sunday to have a chance of progressing to the knockout stage. Davies scored the quickest goal of the 2022 World Cup when he headed home Tajon Buchanan's excellent cross, but Croatia used its experience to gain a foothold in the match.

Playing with three midfielders to Canada's two, Zlatko Dalic's men broke through Canada's high press and exploited space in the middle of the park. Captain Atiba Hutchinson, making his 100th appearance for Canada, failed to track Kramaric on the play that led to the first goal, and a defensive breakdown just before the interval allowed Livaja to give Croatia the lead.

Canada played with more urgency at the start of the second half and nearly equalized when substitute Jonathan Osorio flashed a shot just wide of the post. Jonathan David, who missed the target with all seven of his shots against Belgium, then hit a ferocious shot from range that goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic managed to tip over the crossbar.

But that was all Canada could muster.

Head coach Herdman tried to motivate his players ahead of the critical Group F encounter at Khalifa International Stadium, saying after the loss to Belgium they were going to "F" Croatia. His comments set off a media maelstrom, with Croatia's 24 Sata tabloid photoshopping Herdman's head onto a naked man's body days before the match. Croatia's Dalic also called on Canada to show more "respect" for his country.

"I want to thank the Canada coach for the motivation," Kramaric told reporters, including Sportsnet's Peter Galindo. "In the end, Croatia demonstrated who F'd whom."

Canada will try to close out its World Cup campaign with a first-ever tournament win Thursday against Morocco.

Canada eliminated from World Cup after dispiriting loss to Croatia
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