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FIFA World Cup: Russia 2018

Wasteful Nigeria Go Down to Croatia

The Super Eagles this evening made an easy game look hard and paid the price for it losing 2-0 to Croatia in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D opener at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Russia.

Nigeria deserved something out of the game after playing their hearts out but their lack of killer punch cost them the match as Croatia cruised to easily win the game.

An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo and a second half penalty converted by skipper Luka Modric, sealed victory for the Eastern European football giants.

The Super Eagles made Croatia look ordinary in the opening minutes but let them off the hook on more than one occasion.

It took 10 minutes before Nigeria unleashed their first attack. John Obi Mikel led the charges but his shot went straight and was well saved by Subasic.

The Blazers later took control of the game and attempted to unsettle Nigeria with an early goal but found Francis Uzoho in fine form between the poles.

The first blow eventually landed against the erstwhile African champions inn 32nd minute after a flying header from Mario Mandzukic diverted to Andrej Kramaric whose low shot got deflected into goal by a Nigeria’s Oghenekaro Etebo.

The goal seemed to disorganize the Eagles’ game plan as they started hitting long hopeful balls perhaps in search of a miraculous Victor Moses’ goal but this made them lose possession easily.

With four minutes to end of first the stanza, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric tore through the defence and unleashed a pass to Sime Vrsaljko who had another go at goal but keeper Uzoho kept his shot at bay.

Nigeria won a free-kick on the left in the opening minutes of the second stanza. Brian Idowu went for goal but drew a good save from Subasic who recovered in time to stop parry a follow-up effort from Victor Moses.

William Troost-Ekong should have done better in the 65th minute after he was teed up by Mikel but he sent his shot over the crossbar.

From that point, Croatia took control of the second half and were eventually awarded a penalty in the 70th minute. Luka Modric stepped up and slotted into the bottom corner.

Modric nearly bagged his second and the game’s third in the 77th minute but the midfielder’s stinging free-kick sailed inches over.

Super Eagles pushed forward in search of their first goal of the match but Leon Balogun shot over the crossbar in the 84th minute before Moses also curled his free kick over the target two minutes later.

Croatia should have put the result beyond doubt in the 87th minute as Marco Pjaca did well to pick out Ante Rebic, who placed his effort wide from six-yards out.

With two minutes left on the clock, an unlucky Victor Moses forced a clearance from Croatia’s defenders for the last chance of the game.

How they lined up:

Croatia: Danijel Subasic – Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic – Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric (capt), Ivan Perisic, Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric – Mario Mandzukic

Nigeria: Francis Uzoho – Shehu Abdullahi, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Brian Idowu – Oghenekaro Etebo, John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi – Odion Ighalo


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