Belgium’s World Cup campaign is over after failing to beat Croatia in their final fixture in Group F.
A 0-0 draw was enough to see Croatia finish in second place with Morocco topping the group after beating bottom-placed Canada 2-1.
Belgium failed to impress in any of their games in Qatar, an underwhelming campaign that surely signals the end of their ‘golden generation’.
Croatia thought they had the chance to open the scoring 15 minutes into the game but saw a penalty chalked off by VAR for an incredibly tight offside call in the lead up to Yannick Carrasco’s clumsy tackle on Andrej Kramaric.
The overturned penalty proved to be the only moment of note in a cagey first-half.
The second-half continued in the same vein with Croatia happy to play for the draw. Belgium huffed and puffed but didn’t do enough to force a winner that would have seen them leapfrog their opponents and secure qualification.
United target Thomas Meunier looked solid yet uninspiring on what was his 62nd cap for the national side.
Meunier provided decent width on the right side for Belgium, without mustering anything close to being decisive with his final ball.
The Borussia Dortmund man almost forced a winner in the final moments with his cross-cum-shot deflecting off Romelu Lukaku to go agonisingly wide of the Croatian goal.
Defensively, Meunier struggled somewhat, operating in a back four rather than Roberto Martinez traditional back five, allowing crosses into the Belgium box far too easily.
United are looking for a replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is expected to leave the club in the summer, if not in January and Meunier’s name is consistently linked with the post.
United midfield target Youri Tielemans came on with twenty minutes to play but failed to make an impact, reflective of his tournament as a whole.
Former Red Lukaku was brought on at half-time to provide a focal point in attack and give the Croatian defenders something to think about, after their all too easy ride in the first half.
Lukaku had a wonderful chance to open the scoring seconds before the hour mark but crashed his shot against the post when it looked easier to score.
Lukaku then missed a couple more half chances before the best chance of the game fell to him in the last minute of normal time.
The Inter man failed to make any meaningful contact when three yards out from a Thorgan Hazard cross, chesting the ball back into the Croatian keeper’s grateful grasp.
The shock exit will leave Roberto Martinez with much to ponder as the second best team in the world failed to make any impact in the tournament.