Croatia advance to the World Cup as Belgium lose in a 0-0 draw

Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne (right) and Croatia’s Josip Juranovic (left) during the World Cup Group F football match between Croatia and Belgium held at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, December 1, 2022 scramble for the ball. (Photo by Thanasis Stavrakis/AP Photo)

ALRAYAN, Qatar—Croatia advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup on Thursday. After a 0-0 draw with Belgium, Belgium’s group stage exit is likely to herald the collapse of a generation of talented but underperforming players.

The Eastern European nation has reached at least the semi-finals each of the two times it has reached the knockout stage.

Belgium were eliminated after scoring one goal in three games, failing to maintain their place as the second-place team and one of the tournament favorites.

Belgium, who needed a win to move forward reliably, had their best World Cup performance, wasting two clear chances that fell to Romelu Lukaku. The half-time substitute had a shot at the post and was unable to control the ball that bounced off his chest.

Long dubbed Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’, the generation, now six players with more than 100 appearances, is set to split after reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Steve Douglas

Associated Press