Belgium went into the World Cup as the second-placed team and one of the tournament favourites.
DOHA, Qatar – Belgium could win and reach the round of 16 at the World Cup. All the team needed was for Romelu Lukaku to score as the ball reached him in the dying seconds from goal.
Belgium and their aging generation of players were eliminated on Thursday after a 0-0 draw against Croatia, who rose to second place in Group F behind Morocco.
As Croatia – 2018 runners-up and 1998 semi-finalists – seek another deep run at the World Cup, Belgium are on the brink of breaking up their talented but underperforming squad after failing to live up to their status as runners-up and one of the tournament favourites.
Lukaku, who came on at half-time and missed several big chances, hit the side of the dugout as he walked away, knocking the plexiglass panel out of place.
He not only missed the late chance from close range, but hit the post directly with a shot. Another chance from a header in front of goal sailed over the bar, but it’s not clear if the goal would have counted.
What has long been dubbed Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ – now six players with more than 100 appearances – will part ways with the 2018 World Cup semi-finals as the climax.
The team, which faced issues of infighting between players during the tournament in Qatar, scored just one goal in three games and kept their best performance until the last game. It was too late.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who has been in charge for more than six years, was asked after the game if he would remain coach.
“Now is not the time,” he replied.
Croatia play the winners of Group E on Monday.
What did Morocco have to do to progress at the World Cup?
Morocco reached their second round of 16 at the World Cup after beating Canada 2-1 on Thursday.
The Moroccans’ only other trip beyond the group stage came in 1986.
Hakim Ziyech scored for Morocco in the fourth minute after a nasty mistake by Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan left the winger to put the ball into an empty goal. Youssef En-Nesyri added a second on the 23rd.
At the time it looked as if Morocco would overrun the Canadians.
But Nayef Aguerd’s own goal just before half-time made it 2-1 and propelled Canada up enough to press Morocco in search of an equalizer for most of the second half.
Canada came agonizingly close when a second-half substitute captain Atiba Hutchinson’s header bounced off the crossbar and onto the goal line.
A draw would have been enough for Morocco to advance.
Canada, who will host the next World Cup alongside the United States and Mexico in 2026, ultimately lost all three games in Qatar, catching up on their three losses in their only other World Cup appearance in 1986.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/what-belgium-has-to-do-to-advance-world-cup-knockout-round/507-5de2dab1-4775-4dfe-8cb6-c972a7b85a6f Is Belgium out of the World Cup?