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Croatia lead Morocco after tight, chaotic first half

Josip Stanisic Abdelhamid Sabiri  Croatia Morocco Josip Stanisic Abdelhamid Sabiri - The Canadian Press

The bronze medal game started with a bang, as each side scored in the opening 10 minutes and Croatia scored another late in the first half as they lead Morocco 2-1 at halftime. 

Fans of Morocco were offering their support in droves as always at the World Cup, as the whistles and jeers rang loudly every time Croatia controlled possession. 

Both sides controlled possession and threatened for extended periods of action throughout the first half, but it was Croatia who struck true twice compared to just one for Morocco. 

Croatia reclaimed the lead late in the first half, when Mislav Orsic struck a soft floater over the head of Yassine Bounou that bounced off the side post before rolling into the net and giving Croatia a 2-1 lead.

After a Croatian period of dominance midway through the first half, Morocco took control of the game and generated a multitude of opportunities. They earned multiple free kicks and two corner tries in the Croatian side after the 30th minute. 

A corner kick found the head of Youssef En-Nesyri, but the angle was a bit too tight and En-Nesyri sent it just wide of the Croatian goal. 

A string of great passes by Morocco in the 28th minute opened up a golden opportunity, as Achraf Hakimi wandered deep into the Croatian crease, but his cross was just a touch behind En-Nesyri and he was unable to put the ball in the open net. 

The European side have controlled the pace as the first half continues, and they put together a beautiful chance for Croatian legend Luka Modric in the 24th minute, as his ball trickled through to the keeper and opened a dangerous rebound try. Morocco was able to clear without too much trouble. 

Croatia nearly took the lead in the 17th minute, when a good shot attempt was blocked by their own player but possession continued and ended with a cross-field pass to Andrej Kramaric, whose header was struck too close to the Moroccan keeper and was saved rather easily. 

Both teams played an unusually chaotic brand of football in their hunt for a bronze medal, with both normally-tight defences proving easy to crack and opportunities easy to find in the opening 15 minutes. 

Not to be held down long, Morocco responded to the Croatian goal immediately - Achraf Dari drilled a header into the Croatian net just 112 seconds after the Croatian opener to even the score at 1-1 in the ninth minute. 

Croatia struck first after a short lull in the action, when a picture-perfect set piece was taken outside the Moroccan crease, and a pair of headers found Josko Gvardiol, who struck beautifully to stun Morocco early and 
give Croatia a 1-0 lead. 

Disaster almost struck in the worst way for Morocco in the opening minutes, when Bounou attempted an unusual cross-crease pass to a defender, and he missed the ball, causing it to roll dangerously close to an own goal and
out for a corner.