Doha, Qatar - Two first-half goals set Morocco on their way to the top spot in World Cup Group F but they had to hold on for a 2-1 win over Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday after conceding an own goal that kept them nervous through the second half.
Morocco finished with seven points, two more than runners-up Croatia, to advance from the group stages for a second time, 36 years after they became the first African country to do so at the Mexico World Cup in 1986.
Morocco midfielder Hakim Ziyech, center, shoots the ball against Canada during the first half of a group stage match during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Dec. 1, 2022. (Danielle Parhizkaran-USA Today Sports, via Reuters)
A goalkeeping mistake allowed Hakim Ziyech to score after four minutes, followed by a second in the 23rd minute from Youssef En-Nesyri, running onto a superb long pass from Achraf Hakimi.
But Nayef Aguerd stuck out a toe to deflect a cross from Sam Adekugbe into his own net five minutes before the break to offer already-eliminated Canada a chance to get back in the game and win a first World Cup point. Canada came close to a second-half equalizer but couldn't break through.
Belgium's Timothy Castagne is dejected his team was eliminated from the World Cup after a 0-0 draw with Croatia at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Dec. 1, 2022.
Croatia 0, Belgium 0
Croatia eased into the last 16 of the World Cup after holding a stuttering Belgium to a 0-0 draw on Thursday, sending their European rival's "golden generation" out of the tournament with barely a whimper.
The result saw Zlatko Dalic's men qualify in second place in Group F behind Morocco.
Neither side had a shot on target in a dour first half. Belgium brought on striker Romelu Lukaku at the break, but it was Croatia who sprang into life with Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric drawing back-to-back saves from Thibaut Courtois.
Lukaku rattled the post with a fierce shot from close range as Belgium pushed desperately for the goal that would send them through, but Croatia held firm to extend their unbeaten run in the World Cup group stage to six matches.