Croatia v Belgium: World Cup 2022 – live | World Cup 2022

Key events

83 minutes Gvardiol’s untimely backpass is comfortably saved by Livakovic. Belgium I want an indirect free kick but it wasn’t deliberate.

82 minutes Croatia retained Belgium at arm’s length for most of the second half. There were one or two moments, notably when Lukaku hit the post, but overall Croatia deserve at least a draw.

81 minutes Kovacic wanders into the field from the left and plays a superb pass to release Juranovic on the right side of the box. Its reduction, alas, is appalling, directly to Witsel.

79 minutes Perisic’s teasing cross is crucially diverted by Castagne at the far post. It’s a great thing.

78 minutes Thorgan Hazard’s corner is headed in by Pasalic and over the bar by Vertonghen. Anthony Taylor delivers a goal kick, a decision Vertonghen isn’t entirely in love with.

77 minutes A neat layoff from Petkovic frees Perisic at the halfway line. He runs to the edge of the Belgium penalty area but then hesitated and he was tackled by Vertonghen. It was unusually indecisive on Perisic’s part.

77 minutes “Commentators are very harsh on Lukaku on TV,” says Richard Hirst. “He was on the half-turn and had to keep the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper and the defender; I think he did the best he could.

I mean, Gerd Muller would have scored it, but I know what you mean. It was not an open goal.

77 minutes “Croatia could consider scoring and putting Belgium in bed,” says Mary Waltz. “Croatia are the best team, but KDB and a real target striker is a scary thing.”

76 minutes Perisic absurdly manages to win the ball back near the boundary line and find Petkovic, but his shot is blocked.

75 minutes Croatian look reasonably comfortable at the moment, although the mood can change very quickly in a game like this.

74 minutes What a moment it would be for Kevin De Bruyne to assert his greatness. Although there are exceptions, notably against Brazil in 2018, he hasn’t always been brilliant in stratospheric games.

Show us what you got, Kevin De Bruyne. Photography: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

72 min: Double substitution for Belgium Youri Tielemans and Jeremy Doku replace Leander Dendoncker and Yannick Carrasco.

71 minutes The three Croatian midfielders sometimes kept the ball beautifully in the second half.

70 minutes Romelu Lukaku is a weird mix of unstoppable and vulnerable. At his best, he’s scary, but most of Belgium’s exits from major tournaments have seen him miss a keeper.

69 minutes De Bruyne cuts a fleeing rising reader from an absurd angle. Livakovic’s positioning is good and he saves comfortably.

68 minutes Courtois jumps to his left to make a comfortable save from Modric, who did well to improvise a graze shot just inside the box.

67 minutes Dendoncker is booked for a foul on the increasingly influential Kovacic.

67 minutes Here is Big Rom’s first chance.

66 minutes “A game of 104 world Cup“, muses Chris Ward. “Why not just go all the way and turn it into a Swiss league format?”

65 minutes The first half was almost entirely smelly, but it’s a crack game now.

64 min: Double substitution for Croatia Mario Pasalic and Bruno Petkovic replace Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja.

62 min: New chance for Lukaku! De Bruyne’s cross from the left hits Lovren’s header, knocking Livakovic out of the game in the process, and heads for an open Lukaku goal. He was definitely a keeper, although I’m not sure that would have counted – it looked like the ball was out of play before De Bruyne crossed it.

Romelu Lukaku can't believe we missed him!
Romelu Lukaku can’t believe we missed him! Photography: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

61 min: Lukaku hits the post! How lucky for Belgium! De Bruyne put Carrasco on goal with a subtle, angled pass. His shot was blocked brilliantly by Juranovic, stretching just past the goalkeeper, and Lukaku slapped the loose ball inside the near post! It wasn’t an open goal – goalkeeper Livakovic was back on his feet and there was also a defender nearby – but it was still a hell of a chance.

Romelu Lukaku shoots against the post!
Romelu Lukaku shoots against the post! Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

60 minutes “I certainly understand the logic behind maintaining the world Cup to 32 teams,” says Matt Burtz. “However, I think its expansion to 48 is beneficial. There are currently 211 FIFA member nations, so even with the expansion not even a quarter of the nations will qualify. It’s not as if the Faroe Islands were going to face Brazil.

“Also, if this World Cup has shown anything, it’s that the so-called lightweights can definitely mix with the big boys. Almost everyone agrees that Africa is underrepresented , and South America could absolutely deserve another team or two. Add a few more from Europe and I say you have a pretty good mix.

One hundred and four games though. I am still in therapy for the 2007 Cricket World Cup which took forever.

Stuart Broad at the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
The 2007 Cricket World Cup is only now coming to the end of the Super Eight stage. It’s so long. Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images

59 mins: Belgium substitution Leandro Trossard is replaced by Thorgan Hazard.

57 minutes Croatia are by far the best team at the moment. They work the ball well in midfield again, but Sosa then goes past his cross.

57 minutes “Good idea to ditch unnecessary groups of three bonfires from one shot,” says Steve Murray. “But it is a mistake to place the top eight third-placed teams in a knockout round of 32. Far better to send the top two from each group but give the top eight a goodbye. The remaining 16 would play to reach the last 16 against the top eight. This would mean there would be no second string for the final group matches as they would be playing on a few extra rest days.

Although I like the logic, it feels a little too much like IPL. Then again, I guess you could say that of the best third-placed teams. I’m sure we agree on one thing: 104 Games is no way to treat your golden goose.

54 min: Two more good saves from Courtois! It’s a decent game now. Brozovic curls a low shot from 20 yards which is shoveled by Courtois, diving to his right. Moments later, he made his third good save of the half, diving low to his right again to fend off Modric’s left-footed shot.

51 minutes After a good hold-up play from Lukaku, who looks sharp and ready, De Bruyne fires over 20 yards with his left foot.

50 minutes The corner is taken short and half clear for Sosa, who sends a half volley over the bar from distance.

50 min: Good save from Courtois! They were almost two goals away. Gvardiol snarled forward and stabbed a pass to Kovacic just inside the box. He took a touch and spanked a rising player who was stomped over the bar by Courtois. A good save, even if he expected to make it.

50 minutes For all the misfortune, sadness and ageism, Belgium are one goal from the last 16.

49 minutes De Bruyne draws up a deep cross that heads straight for Livakovic through Lukaku. To be honest, he did well just to win the lead.

Romelu Lukaku heads into the Croatian penalty area.
Romelu Lukaku is already making the difference for Belgium. Photography: Albert Gea/Reuters

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