Croatia showed their class once more by clinching their third top-three finish at the World Cup with a play-off victory over history-makers Morocco.
Zlatko Dalic’s side were runners-up to France four years ago and confirmed their status as one of the elite footballing nations with another third-place finish to go alongside that secured in their competition debut in 1998.
In a frantic opening, Josko Gvardiol gave Croatia the lead on seven minutes with a superb diving header but Achraf Dari levelled just two minutes later by nodding home from close range.
Mislav Orsic curled in a sumptuous second for Croatia via the post three minutes before half-time and struck a thumping, deflected drive into the side-netting after the break.
The second half could not match the energy of a thrilling opening period and Morocco failed to find an equaliser as a fruitful campaign ended in back-to-back defeats.
Though Morocco kept pushing until the end, going close in the dying seconds through Youssef En-Nesyri, Croatia were able to hold on for a 2-1 win and take the prize of a third-place finish.
Though both sides will have been dreaming of reaching a coveted World Cup final, they did themselves proud today and made it a proper contest.