With their golden generation under sustained pressure to pull something out of the bag this summer, Croatia kick-started their World Cup with a deserved, yet fairly uninspiring 2-0 win over Nigeria.
Croatia fan with Modric shirt saying “I don’t remember”. Referring to his testimony in court https://t.co/o07dhbZEUs
— Aleksandar Holiga (@AlexHoliga) June 16, 2018
Disappointing the entire viewing world, the Nigerians wore their duller second kit for their first Group D game, and their performance was equally subdued, with Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi struggling to make his mark on the game.
In midfield, star men Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings for the Croatians, only to let down by a disappointingly lacklustre front-line.
However, the breakthrough goal would come for Croatia just after the half-hour mark, with defender Oghenekaro Etebo deflecting a touch from Mario Mandzukic into his own net.
Quite an unfortunate start to the competition for the new Stoke signing (Etebo, not Mandzukic!)…
Nigeria singularly failed to create much of note at the other end of the pitch, and it was Croatia who would eventually score again to put the result beyond doubt on 71 minutes, this time courtesy of a penalty.
The spot-kick was correctly given after William Troost-Ekong had fouled Mandzukic at a corner, with Modric converting from 12 yards with what was actually his side’s first shot on target of the entire game.
The game would end 2-0 to the Croats, a victory they merited despite the mediocre clash.
Zlatko Dalic’s team now sit atop Group D, and face Argentina on Thursday.
As for Nigeria, they’ll be hoping for a much better display against Iceland next Friday.