2018 World Cup: Nigeria Lose 2-0 To Croatia

Etebo, Odion Ighalo (No 9) and Leon Balogun (No 6) looked dejected as they trudged back into position after Croatia scored

Nigeria were defeated by Croatia to become third African side to lose at the 2018 World Cup after Egypt and Morocco in Kaliningrad on Saturday evening.

The Super Eagles have not lost their opening game since their debut in 1994 until today.

An own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and goal from Luka Modric ensured Croatia began their World Cup Group D campaign with three points.

Croatia began their World Cup Group D campaign with three points as they beat Nigeria in Kaliningrad on Saturday evening

Croatia's second goal came from a penalty awarded for a foolish foul by defender William Troost-Ekong (No 5) on Mandzukic

The opening goal arrived on 32 minutes when a diving header from Mario Manduzkic hit the Nigeria No 8 Etebo before finding the net.

Nigeria were awful for a side that beat Argentina last November. They were inhibited, limited and found no spark in Victor Moses or Alex Iwobi, while the service throughout for the former Watford striker Odion Ighalo was pitiful.

Croatia were less than brilliant themselves, certainly not the full sum of excellent parts, but they created far more, albeit with shots from distance rather than any great piece of craftsmanship.

Indeed, they managed to finish the half in front despite failing to get a single shot on goal.

On 14 minutes, Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic was at the end of a one-touch blitz from left to right and was only marginally over with his shot from the edge of the area.

A couple of minutes on, Andrej Kramaric put one wide and Ante Rebic had an effort deflected a fraction off course. All reasonably close calls from a side with four forwards on the pitch.

Nigeria started the second half with more verve, but it amounted to nothing. They were lucky to avoid going 2-0 down when Rebic fluffed a volley in front of goal, but then conceded a 71st-minute penalty when William Troost-Ekong wrestled Mandzukic to the ground. It was a clumsy challenge that just about summed up his team.

Modric buried the kick.

So this was a good win for Croatia, not least because Group D is arguably the toughest and they now lead it ahead of engagements with Argentina on Thursday and Iceland the following Tuesday.

Nigeria (4-2-3-1): Uzoho 6; Shehu 5, Ekong 3.5, Balogun 5, Idowu 5.5; Ndidi 6, Etebo 5; Moses 5.5, Mikel 6, Iwobi 5.5 (Musa 62, 6); Ighalo 5 (Iheanacho 73, 5.5)

Subs: Ezenwa, Echiejile, Nwankwo, Obi, Akpeyi, Onazi, Ogu, Awaziem, Ebuehi, Omeruo

Booked: Ekong

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