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Canada men’s first-ever World Cup goal, even in blowout loss, sparks hope


DOHA, Qatar — Alphonso Davies scored the first goal in Canada men’s World Cup history just 68 seconds into the match, but could not prevent the team from being eliminated from the competition with still one game remaining. 

Davies’ superb early header gave John Herdman’s team an unexpected lead against Croatia, however, the 2018 finalist came storming back to rack up a convincing 4-1 win in Group F. 

Alphonso Davies makes history!

Alphonso Davies scores the first World Cup goal in history for the Canadian men’s team just 68 seconds into the match.

It was a disappointing way for Canadian hopes to evaporate, following on from their plucky performance in a 1-0 loss to Belgium four days earlier. 

And even with zero points from two games to show for their efforts, there is hope Herdman’s young group can continue to grow and emerge as a genuine force alongside the United States and Mexico in the CONCACAF region. 

Herdman injected his players with spirit and motivation, his emboldened attitude reflected in his, ahem, spicy pregame promise to take the game to Croatia. At first, it seemed to pay off. 

Davies, who plays his club soccer for German giant Bayern Munich, is a shining light and his expert finish provided more evidence of his emergence as a world-class talent. An excellent cross from Tajon Buchanan teed it up perfectly for Davies to rise and power the ball home. 

The Canadian men had taken part in only one previous World Cup, and did not score as they were knocked out the group stage in 1986. This group is better, but on this night, once the tide turned, there was no coming back. 

At 36 minutes, Croatia equalized. Ivan Perisic delivered a fine reverse pass and Andrej Kramaric burst forward, hit his left-foot shot in stride and angled it past Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan

Croatia-Canada highlights

Croatia rolled to a 4-1 victory, marking just the second time it has scored four goals in a World Cup match.

Just before halftime, the European side grabbed another, with a speedy move down the right flank eventually seeing the ball land at the feet of Marko Livaja, who made no mistake. 

With 20 minutes left, Krajmaric got another. Controlling the ball exquisitely, he brought it down and powered a shot that went through the legs of defender Atiba Hutchinson and past Borjan, to effectively wrap things up. In the waning moments, Lovro Majer made it four on a breakaway, as Canada pushed men forward in vain. 

Group F is now a three-way race. Morocco’s upset against Belgium earlier Sunday means the Moroccans now need just a tie against Canada to progress to the elimination bracket. 

Croatia also needs just a tie to move forward against Belgium, regardless of the result in the other match, while the Belgians advance with a win. 

It has been an interesting group, and Canada has played an entertaining part in it. 

Herdman’s men, and the supporting masses back home — including music superstar Drake — would have wished for more after topping the CONCACAF qualifying pool, but it was not to be. 

The next four years will provide more opportunity for improvement, as Canada will host the 2026 tournament with the USA and Mexico. For now, however, the journey is coming to an unwanted end, with nothing but pride to play for Thursday.

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