Alphonso Davies scored Canada’s first-ever World Cup goal, but it was not enough to stop them being knocked out of the tournament following a defeat by Croatia.
Bayern Munich winger Davies’ second-minute opener gave Canada hope, but they ended up second best and have suffered back-to-back defeats in their first two group matches.
In Group F’s earlier game, Morocco shocked world number two side Belgium 2-0 and are second in the standings, behind 2018 finalists Croatia.
John Herdman’s outsiders scored from the game’s first attack after only 67 seconds courtesy of a towering header from Davies, who darted into the box and powerfully converted from Tajon Buchanan’s cross.
Croatia, though, did not panic after falling behind and created numerous chances, with striker Andrej Kramaric seeing a goal ruled out for offside.
But the former Leicester striker equalised with a first-time angled shot from Ivan Perisic’s pass, and Marko Livaja put them ahead with a rasping drive from the edge of the box.
Kramaric was denied by Milan Borjan’s fine save in the second half and at the other end, Dominik Livakovic acrobatically tipped over Jonathan David’s long-range curler.
Hoffenheim frontman Kramaric got his second of the game by coolly converting into the far corner, and substitute Lovro Majer wrapped up the match by netting in injury time.
Croatia keep their cool
You might have expected the first meeting between Croatia and Canada to be a straightforward affair – it was anything but, with a war of words taking place beforehand.
Canada’s English boss Herdman said before the game they would “eff Croatia”, with opposition manager Zlatko Dalic responding by saying it was not a “sign of respect”.
Once on the pitch, Canada looked to stick to their word by scoring inside just two minutes courtesy of star winger Davies’ tremendous header.
It was a wonderful moment for the 22-year-old to net his country’s first World Cup goal, having been born in a refugee camp after his parents fled civil war in Liberia and moved to Canada when he was five.
But the joy and exuberance of youth turned to despair against a wily Croatia who have vast experience and kept their cool to hit back.
They put the a ragged Canada backline under pressure, and Kramaric’s leveller and Livaja’s lovely strike on the stroke of half-time turned the game around.
Jonathan Osorio struck inches wide shortly after coming on as a second-half substitute as Canada – who are playing in their first World Cup since 1986 – looked to find a way back into the game.
But Kramaric struck again from a second Perisic assist, gloriously taking down the cross and stroking in, before Majer punished Kamal Miller’s horrible mistake as Croatia ran out comfortable winners.
They have now lost just once in their last 18 outings, and must face Belgium on Thursday to secure a spot in second round.