Croatia missed out on a penalty in their final group F encounter against Belgium in the 2022 FIFA World Cup after a VAR (video assistant referee) and an onscreen review ruled it out as offside.

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  World number 2 Belgium are in a must-win situation, having suffered a shocking defeat to Morocco in their previous match.15 minutes into the encounter, Luka Modric’s aerial pass was being tackled by fellow Belgian players as Andrej Kramaric of Croatia was fouled by Alex Witsel. The referee ordered a penalty but before Luka Modric could take a position, a VAR check by the referee Anthony Taylor pointed out an offside.  

Offside is a situation when an attacking player’s body part is inside the opponent’s half and is closer to the goal line than the penultimate defender and the ball. Offsides are fouls and goals so judged are not considered as valid. After its introduction in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, VAR has become a part of all major football competitions and helps in the better judgement of offsides. 

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With the decision, Belgium could breathe a sigh a relief as a 1-0 lead for Croatia early in the match would have taken them closer to a shock-exit at this year’s World Cup. 

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A win for Morocco in the other encounter with Canada could mean that Belgium would be eliminated from the World Cup if they don’t beat Croatia. For Croatia, a draw is enough to see the light of day and play the knockouts. Failing to qualify, Belgium would be the highest ranked team to not play the round of 16, with world number one Brazil having already qualified for the knockouts. 

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The knockout stage of the World Cup will begin on December 3.