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Morocco through,Belgium out

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Morocco edged past Canada to top Group F and reach the World Cup knockout stage for the first time in 36 years.

The Atlas Lions, whose previous trip to the last 16 came in 1986, finished above 2018 finalists Croatia, while Belgium, ranked second in the world, are out after finishing third in the group.

A tough test awaits in the next round against the team that finishes second in Group E, which could potentially be Spain or Germany.

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Morocco went ahead after just four minutes courtesy of a goalkeeping howler from Milan Borjan.

The Canada keeper sprinted out of his goal but passed the ball straight to Hakim Ziyech, who lofted a cool finish into an open net from 30 yards.

The north African side doubled their advantage through Youssef En-Nesyri’s well-taken goal as he controlled Achraf Hakimi’s superb pass before firing in.

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Meanwhile, Belgium have been knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage as Croatia progressed at their expense with a goalless draw in Qatar.

Roberto Martinez’s side, who finished third in Russia four years ago and are ranked second in the world, have had a disappointing tournament with just one win and one goal in their three matches.

They produced another lacklustre display against Croatia despite knowing victory was necessary to progress to the last 16.

Substitute Romelu Lukaku had numerous chances in the second half but his failure to convert any sealed his country’s fate.

Lukaku, searching for sharpness following injury, hit the post from in front of goal, poked an effort wide when well-placed and reacted too slowly when the ball hit him in the six-yard box in stoppage time.—BBC

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