Canada and Croatia fight after Morocco’s dismay

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Play in Groups E and F continues on Sunday after an action-packed opening week of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

One of the favorites in Group E, four-time men’s world champion Germany, lost 2-1 to Japan on Wednesday. Germany now has the big task of taking on Spain, who looked like world beaters in a 7-0 defeat of overmatched Costa Rica.

Canada, playing at the World Cup for the first time since 1986, is coming off a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Belgium. On Sunday, they will face Croatia, which will go to a scoreless draw against Morocco.

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Marko Livaja scored from the top of the box after a sloppy defense from Canada to give Croatia the lead in the 44th minute, just eight minutes after the 2018 runners-up found the equalizer.

It is Canada’s second game in a row conceded just before half-time, and Belgium also scored in the 44th minute of their opening game.

Croatia had knocked on the door and called a goal back for offside, but in the 36th minute a clever pass put Andrej Kramarić on target and he made no mistake in passing Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan for the equaliser.

It took Canada less than two minutes to take the lead, with Alphonso Davies heading home Tajon Buchanan’s cross to beat Dominik Livaković.

The 22-year-old Bayern Munich man’s goal was Canada’s first ever goal in the men’s World Cup, days after Davies missed a penalty in the opening defeat to Belgium.

One substitution for each side kicking off at 11 a.m. ET at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan.

Morocco did not give up. In stoppage time they doubled the score again thanks to a substitute. Zakaria Aboukhlal fired a shot into the roof of the goal on a pass from Ziyech. Courtois had no chance to stop that. The victory is Morocco’s first World Cup victory since 1998, its third tournament victory in total.

Heading into the final round of matches, Morocco leads Group F. They are in prime position for a knockout round appearance for the first time since 1986.

Belgium is desperately looking for an answer. Manager Roberto Martinez adds record scorer Romelu Lukaku, who has not yet started this World Cup due to an injury.

After more than 70 minutes of pressure on Belgium, Morocco breaks through again. And this one counts. Abdelhamid Sabiri curls a free kick for Courtois as the Al Thumama stadium fills with cheers.

Morocco have yet to concede a goal this World Cup and could put themselves in an excellent position to progress to the Round of 16.

While Bounou was originally on the team sheet as the starting goalkeeper, after a strong shutout performance against Croatia El Kajoui is between the post. There is some confusion as to why. The Moroccan FA announced the change on Twitter after the match started.

The Al Thumama Stadium erupted in cheers from Moroccan fans when Hakim Ziyech scored from a free kick, but video review overturned the goal for offside. The teams go into halftime with a goalless draw.

Under pressure from Morocco, Courtois chooses to show off his footwork. The goalkeeper, with the ball at his feet, caught Moroccan striker Youssef En-Nesyri off balance as he rushed in – a jittery moment from Courtois, but it worked out in the end.

With a win, Belgium secures a place in the Round of 16. A draw between the two teams shifts the pressure to the final round of the group stage matches.

Belgium (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Meunier; T. Hazard, Witsel, Onana, Castagne; E. Hazard, De Bruyne; Batshuayi

Morocco (4-3-3): Munir El Kajoui; Mazraoui, Saiss, Aguerd, Hakmi; Amallah, Amrabat, Ounahi; Boufal, En-Nesyri, Ziyech

Batshuayi had an early chance for Belgium saved by Munir El Kajoui, followed by a few set pieces chances.

In the FIFA World Cup, the easiest way to advance to the knockout stage is simply to win. But often that is not the case.

Compete in the World Cup tiebreaks that determine the last 16 teams in the tournament. During the group stage, countries play the other three teams in their group once. The top two teams with the most points advance to the knockout stage. A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point, and a loss is worth nothing.

Scooby Axson explains what happens when teams are tied after the final group stage matches.

DOHA, Qatar – US Soccer removed the Islamic Republic emblem from the Iranian flag on some social media posts as a way of showing support for the protests in Iran.

An image of the World Cup Group B standings posted to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on Saturday showed a solid green, white and red flag. The banner on the United States men’s national team’s Twitter page, which lists the team’s matches in the group stage of the tournament, was also changed on Saturday to display the Iranian flag without the Islamic Republic emblem. After being on the air for 24 hours, it was changed back to the banner used by US Soccer during the tournament on Sunday afternoon.

The changes ahead of Tuesday’s match against Iran were deliberate, with a US Soccer spokesman saying it was the federation’s way of “showing support for the women of Iran who are fighting for basic human rights”.

The official Iranian flag continued to be seen elsewhere on US Soccer’s social media accounts, including on the main web page. The removal of the decal was not intended as a permanent protest, and future U.S. Soccer posts are expected to use Iran’s official flag. — Nancy Armor

Keysher Fuller scored in the 81st minute to lift Costa Rica to a 1-0 victory over Japan on Sunday, leaving both teams three points behind after two games in Group E of the World Cup.

Japan has one more group match to go with Spain and Costa Rica will face Germany in the final group match. With a win, Japan could have almost secured a spot in the knockout stages after a 2-1 surprise by Germany in the opener. Costa Rica was beaten 7-0 by Spain in the first game and was just trying to survive. — Associated Press

Japan made a late push against Costa Rica, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas and the Costa Rican defense put their hearts on the line to hold on to the lead.

After bunkering to stay scoreless in the first half, Costa Rica breaks through late in the second half. Keysher Fuller shoots from the center of the box. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda missed his jump and the mistake cost Japan the opening goal.

Japan made two substitutions at half time and adjusted to a more offensive 3-4-3 formation. Hiroki Ito entered the game as third center back and Takuma Asano contributed to the attack.

In the 50th minute, both Ko Itakura and Wataru Endo had blocked shots. Defender Francisco Calvo saved with a lunge to stop Endo’s attempt and tie the score.

Things are going according to plan for Costa Rica. Los Ticos sit back and make sure Japan doesn’t get behind their defenses. For Japan, it will want to make some changes to get a score on the board and keep the Round of 16 hopes alive.

Halftime Stats:

  • Possess: Japan 42%, Costa Rica 58%
  • Shots: Japan 2 (0 on goal), Costa Rica 3 (0 on goal)

Costa Rica plays with pride after losing the opening game 7-0 to Spain, while Japan looks set to prove that victory over Germany was no fluke.

Pressured Germany early on, Japan fell behind against Los Ticos and split the possession battle (Japan 44%, Costa Rica 56%). Japan’s best attacking attempt came from Ritsu Doan, who drove into the penalty area, but his cross was kicked out by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Want to watch the US men’s national team return to a win-or-go-home match against Iran, see what will likely be the last time Lionel Messi plays Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo vs Portugal, or witness the title defense from France? Add matches to your calendar and stay up to date with the latest tournament news.

These two European heavyweights had very different experiences in their respective opening World Cup matches. While Spain opened with a 7-0 win over Costa Rica, Germany was on the wrong side of one of the tournament’s more stunning results, losing 2-1 to Japan. Die Mannschaft is in a precarious situation. It must achieve a result against Spain or be on the verge of failing to progress beyond the group stage in a second successive World Cup.

Time: Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. ET

Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium

How to watch: FS1 and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)

Playing in its first World Cup since 1986, Canada delivered an inspiring performance in a 1-0 upset to Belgium’s third-place finisher in the 2018 World Cup. Now Canada must face 2018 runners-up Croatia. Canadian coach John Herdman added some possible bulletin board material for the Croatians after his team’s loss on Wednesday, saying “I told (the players) they belong here and we’re going and F Croatia.” Croatia ends up with a 0-0 draw against Morocco.

Time: Sunday, November 27 at 11 a.m. ET

Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium

How to watch: FS1 and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)

Morocco earned a scoreless draw against Croatia – the 2018 World Cup finalists – in the opener and are now targeting another side that made a deep run at the last World Cup, Belgium.

Time: Sunday, November 27 at 8 a.m. ET

Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium

How to watch: FS1 and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)

After upsetting European powerhouse Germany in the opening game of the World Cup, Japan now face a team from Costa Rica who were run off 7-0 by Spain. With another victory on Sunday, Japan could secure its fourth Round of 16 qualification in the past six World Cups.

Time: Sunday, Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. ET

Stadium: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

How to watch: FS1 and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)

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