2018 FIFA World Cup (Group D):
- Nigeria 0-2 Croatia
- Iceland 1-1 Argentina
Croatia overcame Nigeria 2-0 during a Group D 2018 FIFA World Cup encounter in Kaliningrad on Saturday night.
Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and a Luka Modric penalty inspired the Europeans to a brave start.
Etebo, who joined Stoke City from Portuguese club Feirense for £6.35m on Monday, turned Modric’s first-half corner into his own net after Ante Rebic and Mario Mandzukic had both got touches.
Modric then converted a 71st-minute penalty – Croatia’s first shot on target – after William Troost-Ekong had manhandled Mandzukic at a corner.
Nigeria offered little attacking threat, although Dejan Lovren blocked Alex Iwobi’s shot just before half-time, and Odion Ighalo glanced a Brian Idowu cross straight at goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.
Victory takes Croatia top of the group, after Iceland held Argentina 1-1 earlier on Saturday.
Team Line Ups:
Croatia XI: Danijel Subasic (G.K), Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic, Sime Vrsaljko, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Ante Rebic
Nigeria XI: Francis Uzoho (GK), Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Bryan Idowu, Abdullahi Shehu, John Obi Mikel, Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr
We are disappointed. When you lose a match, it’s not a good thing, but we must recognise that Croatia had the better team tonight, and my young players made some mistakes, especially on the corners. Sometimes we were a little naive on the set-pieces, but we will work on it. We have to accept this defeat and now we have to win against Iceland. If we win the next game, then all is possible for qualification.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic
A win is a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how you score. What matters is that you score. We want to be more efficient going forward, but we are not going to split hairs about the way we scored.
Croatia captain Luka Modric
It’s a great start for Croatia. We deserved to win. Nigeria played well, but we were better. I’m happy that I scored the penalty. I believe that on the back of this win, we will up our game and continue our journey in the way that we planned before coming here.