|Romelu Lukaku bows in shame after missing a glorious chance that could have helped Belgium into the next round of the World Cup. Croatia advanced after the goalless draw. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
You must have pinched yourself a couple of times trying to be sure, wake up it’s not a dream; Germany and Belgium have crashed out of the World Cup in groups where they started off as favorites.
Football doesn’t have respect for names, pedigree, or history; Morocco beat Canada 2-1 to win Group F but the real story is the fact that the Moroccans won a group that has Croatia and Belgium and, consequently, Roberto Martinez has announced he will quit the Red Devils.
Belgium went up against Croatia and they needed to win after their shock loss to Morocco in their second group game. Croatia went into the game with four points, after hammering Canada and earning a point from the North Africans and a draw would be enough.
There had been talks of unrest and rancor in the Belgian ranks with top players said to be at loggerheads but it climaxed into a shameful first-round exit after they could only settle for a goalless against the 2018 finalists on Thursday.
Martinez opted to be brave, he had Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard on the bench and started Leandro Trossard but none of the could have a telling impact. Croatia thought they would get the lead late in the first half when a penalty was awarded by referee Anthony Taylor but a VAR review chalked it off for a preceding offside.
Lukaku came on in the second half and had four big chances to score and fluffed all. One of those was easier to score than miss but the on-loan Chelsea player could only chest into the palms of the Croatian goalkeeper. The second-ranked team on FIFA standing will take no further part in the tournament.