Croatia brushed aside by fierce French


A strong Croatian challenge was undone by a clinical France side as Les Bleus won their second World Cup.

Croatia started the game extremely strongly dominating possession with Luka Modric orchestrating the midfield excellently, by pinning France deep into their half and getting the ball into dangerous areas. The French, fair play to them, dealt with the pressure well, and this style of play suited them, as they were happy to sit back and counter on the break dangerously.

In the 18th minute, they did exactly that. France got the ball forward and rather unfairly won a free kick 25-yards out after Antoine Griezmann, who was already on his way down before the challenge from Brozovic, was fouled. Griezmann whipped in a vicious cross that was inadvertently flicked into the back of the net off the head of Mario Mandzukic.

Just 10 minutes later Ivan Perisic equalised by excellently firing a fierce shot home from just inside the box, after France couldn’t clear their lines following a cleverly worked Modric free kick. Perisic had done extremely well to get a shot away after he controlled the ball, moved it to his left foot and fired across the keeper into the bottom right corner.

Croatia continued to assert their dominance in the first half, but seven minutes before half time they went down yet again after a long VAR debate led to the award of a penalty. Croatia had conceded a corner from the right side which was whipped into the near post and, without his knowledge, it hit Perisic on the hand. He could not see the ball because of the French defender in front of him and definitely had no time to react.

After a five minute delay in which the VAR referees couldn’t decide on the final decision, the Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana checked the television screens and after long deliberation awarded the penalty which Griezmann cooly dispatched.

Just before the halftime break Rebic, who was everywhere on the pitch, had a chance to equalise for Croatia but his shot was parried over by Hugo Lloris.

France scored their third goal in the 59th minute after an excellent break that involved the rapid speed of Kylian Mbappé. He managed to get into the box after chasing a long ball and the ball eventually bounced to Paul Pogba, who after his first shot rebounded back to him calmly slotted into the top right corner.

Mbappé then put the nail in the coffin for Croatia in the 69th minute after he scored a lovely goal from outside the box beating Danijel Subasić, who did not even move as the ball rattled the net. Subasić had an all-round poor game and could have done a lot better with the goals that Croatia conceded.

Mandzukic, who had worked tirelessly to hold the ball and run down wings, got his reward in the 69th minute. He closed down Hugo Lloris which led the France and Tottenham captain to make a mistake and hit the ball into Mandzukic to make the score 4-2.

A fair result in the end for a clinical France side who knew when to sit back and when to attack. Croatia go home proud with their highest ever World Cup finish and an excellent first-half performance.

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