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Kramaric is the bright spot in enigmatic Croatia.

Inevitably, it was Kramaric who got the equalizer and suddenly the Canadian bubble ran out of air.

Gaps began to appear, and there is nothing the Croats love more than to force their way through space with short passes and quick, clever dribbles.

With time running towards halftime, Josip Juranovic made a one-two as he charged into the field, slotting the ball between a defender’s legs for Marko Livaja to control before slotting it into the net.

With the rest of his team unable or unwilling to match his work rate at times, Kramaric put the game out of doubt by grabbing a second with a wonderful first touch before firing home on 70 minutes.

The 31-year-old striker was substituted shortly after, job done and Belgium to come. He may have had to sacrifice his chance to score a hat-trick, but the prize of progression to the round of 16 is much greater.

Croatia’s bright spot is that they scored four goals in their 10 attempts on goal. More worrisome is that playmaker Luka Modric once again struggled to assert himself in the game, in and out but invisible for long stretches.

Ivan Perisic had a similar game, setting up both of Kramaric’s goals but otherwise inconsistent in a game against the type of opposition he regularly dominates.

Still, the Croats top the group with four points, ahead of Morocco on goal difference and one point ahead of the lackluster Belgians, and a draw will see them through.

As poor as they have been in their first two matches, Belgium will be far more dangerous than Morocco or Canada, and will almost certainly punish Croatia for any lack of concentration.

Like Kramaric, it is not in the nature of the Croats to play conservatively, but it could still provide them with the best chance of reaching the round of 16.

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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