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World Cup 2022: Canada was knocked out of the World Cup after losing to Croatia

Nov 28, 2022

After losing 4-1 to Croatia in the final group-stage match, Canada has been eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In the second minute, Alphonso Davies netted Canada’s first-ever World Cup goal by heading Tajon Buchanan’s inch-perfect assist into the goal.

The Canadians played well for the first 20 minutes or so, but Croatia gained control after that. Andrej Kramaric scored twice, and Marko Livaja’s goal in the 44th minute sealed the victory. After Kamal Miller brutally turned the ball over as Canada pressed in desperation, Lovro Majer added a fourth goal in overtime.

Canada’s final group stage match against Morocco is merely a formality because Croatia and Morocco have already amassed four points.

Here are three lessons learned from Canada’s humiliating defeat by Croatia.

For Canada, Alphonso Davies creates history.

In an otherwise terrible performance on Sunday, there was one positive aspect. Alphonso Davies headed in a beautiful cross from Buchanan in the second minute to score the first-ever goal for the Canadian men’s team in the FIFA World Cup. After scoring, Davies ran ecstatically to the corner flag. Even though the circumstances of the outcome could lessen the thrill, it’s a moment that will be relieved in Canadian homes and sporting academies for decades.

Davies’ goal gave Canada an early advantage and was the quickest score of any game in the 2022 tournament. Canada was the superior team for the first 20 minutes, and Davies executed the strategy perfectly. He was all over the field recovering balls and making numerous stunning runs through the attacking third with lightning-quick speed and precision. Then everything descended into chaos.

The century-mark game for Atiba Hutchinson could have gone better.

When he made his 100th international appearance for the red and white on Sunday, Atiba Hutchinson became the first player to do it for Canada. It’s a fantastic achievement. Given that Hutchinson is the steadfast holdover from the distinctly uninspired years of Canadian football, criticizing him seems a little unfair. However, Hutchinson actually performed quite poorly in this one.

Hutchinson, who is 39 years old, was utterly out of it in the first half when he lost Croatian Andrej Kramaric in the box, which directly resulted in the equalizing goal. As Josip Juranovic sailed into the attacking third and set up Marko Livaja’s game-winning goal, he also failed to stop him.

It was clear that Hutchinson lacked the speed or ability to carry any Canadian move forward. The ardent Canadian fans were almost unanimous in their desire to substitute Hutchinson at halftime. At halftime, Herdman replaced Cyle Larin and Stephen Eustaquio with Ismael Kone and Jonathan Osorio, respectively. While Osorio’s switch first seemed brilliant, fans were left wondering why Hutchinson stayed on the field.

To be fair to Hutchinson, he wasn’t the only one standing around when Croatia scored its third goal, Kramaric’s second of the game, and Hutchinson was once more taken off guard, allowing the figurative dagger to slide through his legs. Kamal Miller’s attempt to close the game out was far too passive, and he later made a terrible mistake that directly set up Lovro Majer’s insurance goal in the last seconds. However, it perfectly captured Hutchinson’s horrible night.

Canada’s transition was hampered by Croatia’s superior tactical skills.

In the final 75 minutes of play, Ivan Perisic and Mateo Kovacic put on a possession exhibition, fighting tirelessly to win the ball back and repeatedly finding openings in Canada’s defense. 

They consistently put their opponent to sleep by spraying long passes to change the field of play. Kovacic essentially baited Hutchinson, Osorio, Eustaquio, and Buchanan by challenging them to press hard while Perisic contributed two assists.

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