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Belgium crashes out as Croatia advances, Morocco wins Group F

BSR Agency / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Croatia secured second place in Group F with a 0-0 draw against Belgium, which relegated FIFA's second-ranked team to a shock exit at the 2022 World Cup.

The Croatians will be joined in the round of 16 by surprise Group F winner Morocco, as the North African nation beat Canada 2-1 on Thursday.

Morocco ended the group stage with seven points, two better than Croatia and three more than Belgium.

A series of missed chances late in Thursday's contest will haunt Roberto Martinez's Red Devils. Romelu Lukaku came agonizingly close on three separate occasions to scoring the winning goal that would've sent Belgium to the knockout stage.

The Inter striker rattled a shot off the post around the hour mark before firing a header over the crossbar from 6 yards out two minutes later. Then, in the 90th minute, Thorgan Hazard's brilliant cross found Lukaku wide-open in front of goal, but the ball bounced off his chest and straight to Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

After the full-time whistle sounded, a devastated Lukaku had to be consoled by Belgium assistant Thierry Henry.

Croatia reaches the knockout rounds for the second World Cup running, as Zlatko Dalic looks to build on the success of 2018 when his side made an unexpected run to the final, losing to France.

Morocco, meanwhile, heads into the round of 16 as group winner for the first time since 1986.

The Moroccans will take on Group E runner-up Spain, while Croatia plays Japan in the next round.

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