FIFA World Cup: Croatia outclass Nigeria to top Group D

Croatia claimed a tight position in Group D after a hard fight against Nigeria that led to a 2-0 win with an own goal from Nigerian player Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty by Luka Modric.

Midfielder Etebo turned a Modric corner into his own net at the 32nd minute after Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic both flicked the delivery on. Nigeria’s previous goal conceded at the World Cup in 2014 was yet another own goal by their defender Joseph Yobo that led to a last-16 defeat against France.

W
hen William Troost-Ekong dragged Mandzukic down in the box, captain Modric converted this opportunity into a 71st-minute penalty to give Croatia a winning start on their fifth appearance at the finals.

Croatia faced a close contest in Kaliningrad but Mandzukic’s aerial power caused plenty of problems for Nigeria, the team who have the youngest squad at the World Cup. Gernot Rohr’s men were unable to perform to create a good opportunity of their own and now they sit at the bottom of Group D after Argentina and Iceland who drew in Moscow earlier on Friday.

Modric up to the task 

Croatia skipper Modric truly stepped up to the task as his team beat Nigeria 2-0. He showed leadership and class which was unmatched on the pitch. The Real Madrid playmaker was the key in Croatia’s flawless passing. He held the midfield and covered every blade of grass on the pitch for 90 minutes.

When he was called upon, he answered with a calm penalty to seal the match for the Croatians. Luka Modric did everything that was expected of him and more. Croatia will look to their captain to produce similar results further in the World Cup, specifically their upcoming tie against Argentina.

Nigeria not as flashy as their kit

Nigeria’s striking new home kit which went absolutely viral last month so it was quite disappointing to see them in their ghoulish and less stylish away kit for their opening World Cup match. By and large, Nigeria was every bit as dull as their shirts. The Super Eagles impressed the world on their road to Russia, finishing on top of a group that included Cameroon and Algeria. But the squad containing 18 World Cup finals debutants struggled on the big stage.

Despite his own goal, Etebo was one of their better performers yesterday. Moses was a genuine threat in delivering set-pieces but his tendency to go to ground easily annoyed the neutral viewers. Ighalo was an isolated figure up front and his header from in the 59th minute was the first of just two efforts on target by the Nigerians. Arsenal star Alex Iwobi, who was tipped to make a significant impact on the match failed to do so and Leicester striker Kelechi Iheanacho failed to inspire a comeback when appearing as a substitute.

4 thoughts on “FIFA World Cup: Croatia outclass Nigeria to top Group D

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