Croatia v Nigeria Match Review: WC 2018: Group D clash – June 16, 2018
Croatia v Nigeria Result: CROATIA 2, NIGERIA 0
Watch WC 2018: Group D clash and goals between Croatia v Nigeria
In a Group D match of poor quality at the Kaliningrad Stadium, Croatia downed Nigeria 2-0, the contributors to the score line being an own goal and a penalty conversion.
The match was scrappy and lacked the free-flowing quality of some of the earlier games of the WC 2018. The lackluster nature of the match was highlighted by the fact that there were no shots on target for till the 59th minute of the game.
Nigeria's German coach Gernot Rohr had packed the Nigerian squad with debutantes and that was very evident from the way they struggled on the pitch. Odion Ighalo, who plays for Chinese club Changchun Yatai, cut a lonely figure in the role of a striker, his only effort being a skyed header over the bar off a Brian Idowu pass in the 59th minute. Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi was ineffectual and his only attempt on the goal was effectively blocked by Dejan Lovren.
The Croatian game was listless by their own high standards. Real Madrid and Barcelona mid-fielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic effected some lovely passes but the forwards were not able to capitalize on them. One of their few attempts on the goal was Ivan Perisic's shot that sailed over the bar in the 13th minute with Mario Mandzukic doing the same a little later, both from Modric passes.
Croatian efforts were rewarded when Nigerian mid-fielder Oghenekaro Etebo guided the ball into his own net in the 32nd minute from a Luka Modric corner. Incidentally, Etebo joined Stoke City on Monday from Portuguese club Feirense for £6.35m.
Despite all their mid-field domination, Croatia's only shot on goal came from the penalty they were awarded. Center-back William Troost-Ekong's foul on Mandzukic in the corner of the box made the decision for the referee an easy one.
Luka Modric stepped up for the spot-kick to make it 2-0. The Croatians could have made it 3-0 in the dying minutes of the game but Mateo Kovacic failed to beat goalkeeper Francis Uzoho from close-range.
Croatia next meet Argentina on the 21st in a must-win came for Messi and his men. Nigeria with Saturday's poor performance don't look potential entrants into the next round what with tough games against Iceland and Argentina round the corner.