Match report as Belgium sub Romelu Lukaku misfires in 0-0 draw with Croatia; 2018 runners-up into knockouts with Group F winners Morocco but Roberto Martinez’s side – ranked No 2 in the world – sent home with a third-place finish; Belgium boss later announced he is leaving his role
Romelu Lukaku hit a post and missed a string of chances as Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ were knocked out of the World Cup, their 0-0 draw with Croatia sending the 2018 runners-up into the last 16 with Group F winners Morocco.
Roberto Martinez’s side finished third four years ago and led the world rankings until recently but his ageing squad were well off the pace in Qatar and, despite an improvement in the second half which led to a series of openings for Lukaku, they couldn’t come up with the win they needed due to Morocco’s victory over Canada.
Half-time sub Lukaku shot against the inside of the post when the goal was gaping, headed over from a Kevin De Bruyne cross, flicked wide from close range, chested the ball to the goalkeeper from inside the six-yard box and, in stoppage time, was beaten to a loose ball by Josko Gvardiol from a similar distance.
After the final whistle, Belgium’s record scorer broke down in the arms of coach Thierry Henry and then punched a panel out of the dugout in frustration – but his team-mates had once again been below par themselves, with only an extremely tight offside review denying Croatia a penalty in the opening 45 and Thibaut Courtois made to work in the second period.