Croatia saves itself with a draw: unused usury of chances seals Belgium's World Cup exit

Belgium is eliminated from the soccer World Cup.

Croatia saves itself with a draw: unused usury of chances seals Belgium's World Cup exit

Belgium is eliminated from the soccer World Cup. The "Golden Generation" around director Kevin De Bruyne does not use the many chances against Croatia. Because Morocco wins in the parallel group game, the North Africans and Croatia celebrate reaching the round of 16.

Romelu Lukaku pulled the jersey over his head and cried uncontrollably, Kevin De Bruyne pressed his lips together and stared into space. The 0-0 draw against Croatia sealed the bitter end of the World Cup for Belgium's top stars, and the golden generation is now definitely a failed one. Croatia around Luka Modric, meanwhile, trembled into the round of 16.

"We were ready, we had a lot of chances to score, we're leaving with our heads held high," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, and then he spoke about his stars in the past tense: "The golden generation made a legacy anyway, it will resonate."

However, it will now forever stand for a memorable World Cup preliminary round, because that last happened to the Red Devils 24 years ago. The last injured Lukaku, who came on as a substitute in the second half, almost redeemed his team when he hit the post (61st) and was completely free in the final phase (89th). When his tears had dried, Lukaku smashed the plexiglass pane of the dugout in anger.

Vice world champions Croatia also owed a lot, but now they meet the first of group E with Spain and Germany in the round of 16. Modric, 37, set the pace in the Croatian game again.

The atmosphere around the Belgian team had already hit rock bottom before the group finals. A crisis meeting was necessary, the offensive complained about the defense and vice versa - Hazard spoke of a "difficult phase". And then sat on the bench. Coach Roberto Martinez rotated out his captain, De Bruyne took over the armband. Lukaku, who was still not completely fit, was also missing at the beginning, Belgium tried it without two of the biggest names.

And made the beginning in front of 43,984 spectators in Ar-Rayyan quite open. Ivan Perisic had a good chance for Croatia after just nine seconds, but then it was Belgium's turn. Yannick Carrasco was too hesitant from an acute angle (11'), Dries Mertens passed the ball over it (13'). Just two minutes later, Modric was already at the penalty spot after Carrasco had fouled Andrej Kramaric - but then the VAR determined that Dejan Lovren was just offside.

The scene took the momentum out of the encounter, that was true for both sides, many mistakes crept in in the build-up game. Especially Belgium, which was under pressure to win, disappointed. Martinez reacted at the break and brought a target player in Lukaku. The fans celebrated the record scorer, who introduced himself with a first chance with a header (48th) - and then hit the post from a short distance.