The FIFA World Cup is reaching its dramatic conclusion, with the knockouts stage now well underway. Every match has something fantastic happening, but if one moment stood out above all others, it would have to be Gvardiol’s incredible tackle against Croatia, which not only kept them in the game but also kicked Belgium out of the tournament.
It displayed strength, athleticism, and determination that will go down in World Cup history! While Belgium was widely expected to progress to the semis after comfortably taking care of Japan in their previous match, things got interesting when they faced off against Croatia.
It was neck and neck throughout the game, with both sides scoring goals, but it looked like Belgium had finally taken control when Lukaku scored in injury time.
Coming into the game, both Belgium and Croatia knew they needed to win to advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
There is no doubt that the focal point of this play was Romelu Lukaku. He demonstrated his trademark explosive speed and powerful physique by sprinting toward the ball as soon as it bounced off Sosa’s leg. The rapidity with which he reached the scene meant that goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic had no chance of stopping him from scoring – even if he had been in an excellent position to do so.
It is also worth noting Castagne’s role in creating this goal opportunity. His well-placed ball behind Thorgan Hazard drew Borna Sosa out of position, thus opening up space for Lukaku to exploit. This showed good vision and an understanding of how best to use his teammates’ strengths on the pitch.
Every minute he entered the game in the second half, Lukaku was incredible. He was the driving force behind Belgium’s second-half dominance over Croatia, which had been slow in the first 45 minutes. He also contributed to the fact that there was no goal.
On one occasion, he had witnessed a blistering cross from five yards away bounce off his knee and out. From a closer distance, he had seen another spectacular ball bounce off his chest and land safely in Livakovic’s hands. He had struck the post from just outside the six-yard box on a rebound.
At that point, the ball rebounded out to him in the goal’s center from a distance of four yards, with the invitingly empty net in front of him. He must have realized this one would be the last, with only a few minutes left. One of them was entering, and it had to.
Lukaku turned, stretched, and swung his left peg simultaneously, convinced that he would make a clean connection. But a lime green toe knocked the ball away just as he was about to make contact. Perfect timing.
The look on Lukaku’s face as he stood back up and prepared for a cross that never materialized was, “How?”
Croatia qualified for the World Cup thanks to 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol’s lime-green boot. Ousted Belgium. Guardiola’s feat under pressure is impressive. Lukaku’s off-the-ball movement dominated the half.
He missed those chances, but Gvardiol and his defensive colleagues could not stop him from getting into those positions. He shouldn’t have blocked him here, either. Lukaku reacts faster as the ball bounces off Sosa’s leg, like a top striker. Lukaku is before Gvardiol when the ball arrives.
He could only get close to the striker by simultaneously falling to the ground and stretching out his leg at an absurd angle. Croatia’s tournament may have ended if the player or the ball had been timed improperly and missed.
Paolo Madini said, “If I have to make a tackle, then I have already committed a mistake.”
However, he had tackled well, and he knew that’s all defenders can sometimes do. Sometimes the forward is too intelligent, fast, strong, and lucky.
The World Cup in Qatar 2022 is a tournament that will be remembered for many things, one of which being an incredible tackle by Gvardiol in the 92nd minute of the match against Belgium, which kept Croatia alive and kicked Belgium out.