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Belgium Out, Croatia in for World cup round of 16 as match ends goalless


Belgium has been knocked out of the World Cup following a goalless draw against Croatia on Thursday.

Roberto Martinez’s side needed a win against the 2018 World Cup finalists to qualify past the group stage, but they were unable to find the back of the goalpost.

Captain Eden Hazard was dropped for the start of the match, and Romelu Lukaku came on to miss four big chances as Belgium’s World Cup journey came to disappointing end.

Croatia advance into the round of 16 but qualify in second place after Morocco finished top of the group with a 2-1 win over Canada.

“It’s not easy to win games in the World Cup,” Martinez told BBC after the game. “We weren’t ourselves in the first game we had a deserved defeat in the second game.

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“Today we were ready, we created opportunities, and today there are no regrets. We’re out but we can leave with our heads held high.”

Croatia dominated from the first whistle and had a chance inside the opening 20 seconds but Ivan Perisic blazed his shot over the bar.

Belgium responded with a swift counterattack after 14 minutes but Dries Mertens was unable to find the target after a fine through ball from Kevin de Bruyne.

Less than a minute later, Croatia was awarded a penalty when Yannick Carrasco was adjudged to have brought down Andrej Kramaric inside the area.

With Luka Modric preparing to take the spot-kick, referee Anthony Taylor was sent to the monitor by the VAR, and the decision was overturned for an offside in the buildup.

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The rest of the half turned out to be a tense affair, but the game came to life after the break.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was called into action early on and prevented Croatia on three separate occasions.

Lukaku was brought on in the second half, and the Inter Milan striker missed two big chances in quick succession.

Just after the hour mark, Lukaku reacted first to a rebound and managed to strike the post from close range with the goalkeeper out of position.

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