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

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There is hope that Canada’s young group can continue to grow and emerge as a genuine force alongside the United States and Mexico in the CONCACAF region.



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Canada Player Ratings: Davies gets redemption, but World Cup hopes end

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar – The Canadian men’s national team’s first World Cup campaign in 36 years will end this Thursday.

Andrej Kramaric and Marko Livaja wiped out Alphonso Davies’ early opener 67 seconds in, the first Canadian goal at a men’s World Cup, to lift Croatia to a 4-1 win.

With the defeat, Canada will be eliminated at the group stage, regardless of Thursday’s result versus Morocco, to close out Group F action.

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Here are your on-the-whistle player ratings for every Canadian starter.

Ratings are based off a 10-point scale. Anything above a six, the usual average for soccer ratings, is considered solid or better.

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Milan Borjan (goalkeeper): 8/10

Before the second half, Milan Borjan was going to receive a lower rating.

His hesitancy to come off his line and collect passes that ran through was peculiar. It nearly allowed Livaja and Kramaric to latch onto what seemed to be lost causes.

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Then Borjan produced four solid saves, including on Kramaric in the 55th minute, to keep Canada within touching distance until the third goal, reminding us of his heroics during World Cup Qualifying.

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Alistair Johnston (right-back): 7/10

Considering he was isolated most of the night, Alistair Johnston coped well. It’s a tough assignment having to face either Ivan Perisic or Borna Sosa on your own.

Johnston went on to win four of his seven defensive duels. Not bad at all.

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Steven Vitoria (centre-back): 6/10

Vitoria’s decision to push up, which vacated a wide-open lane for Livaja right before halftime, was one of his glaring mistakes on the night.

As usual, Vitoria’s distribution was decent, albeit with a couple of misplaced passes under pressure, but he remained strong in the air.

Kamal Miller (centre-back): 4/10

Four days after his man-of-the-match performance, Kamal Miller did struggle more often against a rapid Croatian attack and midfield.

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Miller’s weaknesses defending on the turn and in the air were exposed on the first and third goals. The mishit clearance for the fourth didn’t help, either.

It’s a shame, too, after what was a tremendous display in transitional moments against Belgium.

Richie Laryea (left-back): 6/10

Sunday wasn’t as eventful for Richie Laryea but he was solid at the back when Canada needed him.

The only wish Canadians would’ve wanted from Laryea was to be more influential in the final third, but Croatia’s defence rendered that task moot.

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Tajon Buchanan (right winger): 7/10

A lively start for Tajon Buchanan was negated by lackadaisical defensive duties. It was clear that Croatia was exploiting the right side with Johnston the only player covering the entire flank.

But there’s no doubt that Buchanan was a live wire when asked to be, as he posed a constant threat in transition and assisted Davies’ opener.

Atiba Hutchinson (midfielder): 5/10

It was apparent that Atiba Hutchinson, on three days’ rest at age 39, was struggling to keep up with the pace of play.

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Croatia’s midfield might have 37-year-old Luka Modric, but they still play incredibly slick and fluid football. Unfortunately, Hutchinson learned that the hard way.

The fact he stayed on the pitch for 73 minutes is quite surprising considering those struggles.

Stephen Eustaquio (midfielder): 9/10

Before he withdrew with a suspected injury, Stephen Eustaquio was terrific yet again.

He didn’t misplace a single pass on 27 attempts, and completed five clearances, a tackle and an interception before he checked out of the game at halftime.

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Depending on the severity of his injury, this could be a major blow for Canada ahead of the Morocco match on Thursday.

Alphonso Davies (left-winger): 8/10

Credit Alphonso Davies. The Bayern Munich superstar scored the first-ever Canadian men’s national team goal at the World Cup after one of the most heartbreaking moments in the squad’s history. That takes incredible mental strength.

He also tried to will his team back into the match after going 2-1 down by taking on Croatia’s defence, often on his own. The final ball didn’t always come off – he completed two of six dribbles and one key pass – but credit Davies for trying.

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Jonathan David (forward): 6/10

David looked timid and hesitant compared to the Belgium match. He was so eager to score in the opener that perhaps he was more selective with his shooting on Sunday.

Cyle Larin (forward): 5/10

After a strong performance against Belgium, Larin was relatively anonymous. He didn’t have a single shot and finished with just 14 touches.

Larin is a forward who needs to be actively involved, so the fact he was so invisible didn’t help unlock his best qualities.

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Croatia's Andrej Kramaric scores goal vs. Canada in 70' | 2022 FIFA World Cup

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Watch Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric scoring a goal against Canada in the 70′ in the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup.



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