- Nigeria lose to superior Croatian side at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Group D opener
- Oghenekaro Etebor scores an unfortunate own goal to put their opponents ahead
- Luka Modric doubles the advantage from the spot to send his country to the top of the table
The Super Eagles of Nigeria tasted their first defeat to Croatia as they lost by 2-0 in their opening match of Group D.
Ogehenekaro Etebor unfortunately scored an own goal as Mario Manduzkic's flying header came off his foot and the ball rolled into the net to put Croatia ahead.
Gernot Rohr's men did not create a meaningful chance in the first half but came back strongly in the second half.
The three time African champions could not break through the stubborn defence as the team did not trouble the Croatian keeper in goal.
The Eastern Europeans got the second as the referee adjudged William Troost-Ekong to have bundled down Mandzukic in the box.
Captain Luka Modric doubled the advantage as the sends Francis Uzoho the wrong way to put the match beyond the reach of the Nigerian side.
The Green and White will be facing Iceland in their second match as the Scandinavian country secured a point against mighty Argentina in their early fixture.
Read our match reports below
90+4' The referee has had enough as he blows the final whistle. Nigeria taste their first defeat in Russia.
90+2' CHANCE! Kovacic one-on-one with Uzoho as he shoots into the keepers hands. It should have been 3-0 but for the brilliant Nigerian goalkeeper.
90' Nigeria not giving up as they push forward to at least pull one back. The referees assistant indicates four minutes will be added to the 90.
88' SUBSTITUTION! Mikel out for Nwankwo
87' CHANCE! Musa dribbles swiftly down the left as finds Iheanacho in the box but the ball could not in his feet.
87' An ambitious drive from Etebor but the ball goes sky high.
85' SUBSTITUTION! Mandzukic comes out for Pjaca
81' Nigeria creates another chance as Balogun with the lopping header but easy catch for Subatic.
80' Idowu teams up with Iheanacho as he finds Musa in the box but he clatters into the defender as Nigeria wins the throw.
79' Perisic with a delightful cross as Uzoho get his hands to it and Ndidi mops up.
77' SUBSTITUTION! Rebic come out for Kovacic
75' Mikel finds Iheanacho in the box as he improvises but his shot does not trouble the goalkeeper.
74' SUBSTITUTION! Iheanacho comes on for Igahlo
73' Nigeria have been second best in all departments of the game as they trail by 2-0.
73' The Super Eagles need something special to cancel the two-goal deficit.
71' GOOOAAAAAL! Modric sends Uzoho the wrong way as Croatia double their lead.
70' PENALTY! Troost-Ekong pulls Mandzukic down as the referee points to the spot and awards a yellow card to the Nigerian defender.
69' Perisic tries to get the better of Shehu to cross the ball but the Nigerian defender wins the battle for a corner.
67' The scores still 1-0 to Croatia as Croatia play more defensively to keep the lead.
66' Good one-two between Mikel and Moses but the falls goes off his strides.
63' Mandzukic heads as the ball goes wide for a goal kick to Nigeria.
63' Ekong heads clear from a Modric's cross as he concedes the first corner to Croatia in the half.
62' SUBSTITUTION! Musa comes on for Iwobi.
60' SUBSTITUTION! Goal scorer Kramaric goes out for Brozovic.
59' Idowu crosses to Ighalo but his header didn't trouble the goalkeeper. It's the first effort on goal from Nigeria.
57' Moses skips away from two defenders both his cross his disappointing as Subatic handles the ball.
55' Moses has been brought down against for the umpteenth time asking but the referee waves play on.
53' Moses floats it in an fall to Iwobi down the left who delivers another cross but the defence reads it well.
53' Nigeria looking better than the first half as Moses wins the fourth corner of the half.
51' Iwobi with the trickery inside the box as he finds space but the referee sounds his whistle for an infringement.
49' lovely piece of skill from Moses but he shoots wide and he claims the defender got the touch as Croatia handed the advantage.
48' The Super Eagles wins a third corner but defended by Persic
47' Nigeria wins the corner early in half as Moses drills on in and Balogun almost get to it for another corner.
45+2' Referee blows the half time whistle and it is Croatia that have the lead going into the break.
45+1' Moses shoots from distance but it goes way over the bar.
45' Free kick is taken as it fall nicely to Iwobi outside the box and he shoots but hits the defence.
45' Moses wins a free kick in a dangerous position as Nigeria look for an equalizer.
43' The Super Eagles trying to get something before half time as they push forward.
41' The match is still 1-0 to Croatia as we enter in the last few minutes of the first half.
40' Kramaric flicks a header from a Rakitic's cross but the ball goes slightly over the bar. Kramaric is giving the Nigerian defence a whole lot of problems.
39' The eastern European are well in control of the match as they are the more confident side at the moment.
37' Etebor wins a free kick off Luka Modric. The resulting kick taken but to no avail.
35' Now we have a game in our hands as the Super Eagles side seem fired up to get an equalizer.
33' Croatia deserves to score as they have been asking the Nigerian defence questions and finally got an answer.
32' GOOOOOAAAAAAL! The corner floated in by Modric as Mandzukic dives in with a header but unfortunately hits Etebor into the net.
32' Excellent by Kramaric from the left as he crosses to Mandzukic to win a corner.
31' YELLOW CARD! to Rakitic after a brutal challenge on Victor Moses which leaves the Chelsea winger in pain.
28' It's still a cagey affair as both sides remain calm as they watch their lines for a potential break away.
27' Rebic fouls Idowu in the box as Nigeria breathe a sigh of relief from the promising attack by their opponent.
25' Both sides have lost possession constantly as Croatia seem to have the upper hand in the match.
23' Nigeria still trying to create that cutting edge in the final third of their opponents half.
21' Ighalo forces a corner as he shoots against a Croatian defender. The corner taken but the ball bubbles in an out of Croatia's 18-yard box and Etebor shoots wide.
18' Balogun gets into Kramaric's way for a free kick in a dangerous position. Modric takes but well read by Uzoho.
17' Moses concedes a corner as he stops a pass laid through to Inter Milan attacker Ivan Perisic.
16' Kramaric tries his luck from 25-yards but Uzoho had it covered as the ball drifts away from goal.
15' The match so far has been entertaining as both teams have shown their attacking prowess. The score remains 0-0.
13' CHANCE! The first real opportunity for Croatia as Mandzukic lays the ball down for Perisic but the ball goes off target.
12' CHANCE! Mikel steals the ball from Modric as he floats in a cross to Ighalo but Subasic comes and collect.
11' The fans at the Kaliningrad Stadium cheering the team as the Super Eagles are connecting passes together.
9' Modric takes a corner kick but the Nigerian defence stand firm as Moses wins a free kick.
7' Both sides still trying to settle first into the game as possession have been won and lost in the midfield.
5' Etebo wins a free kick in the midfield but the team fail to utilize the chance.
3' The tempo of begins from the Croatian side as they make a move down the left but Idowu intercepts as Nigeria restart the from their half.
1' Ighalo wins a free kick from a promising position for Nigeria which Moses takes but headed away as Croatia breaks away.
1' The match gets underway as the Super Eagles start the game from right to left.
Read the preview below
- Nigeria will begin their campaign in Group D against Croatia
- Both teams go into the match with poor run of results
- Argentina and Iceland will also lock horns in the other fixture
The day of reckoning is finally here as the Super Eagles of Nigeria will be taking on Croatia in their first Group D match.
Both teams have never met in a World Cup tournament or an international engagement but it promises to be an entertaining affair.
The three time African champions had an impressive run during the qualifiers and made it through at the expense of Zambia, Cameroon, and Algeria.
On the other hand, the Eastern European nation, had to go through the playoffs stage after coming behind Iceland in their group.
The Green and White men had only managed one win against Poland in the warm up friendly losing to Serbia, England and the Czech Republic, while they managed a 1-1 draw against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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The Super Eagles highest finish in a World Cup competition is the second round, a feat they achieved in 1994 in the United States and 1998 in France.
Croatia's best finish at the finals was in 1998 where they remarkably came third in team led by their inspirational captain Davor Suker.
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Argentina and Iceland who are the other contenders in Group D will trade tackles in the early kick-off.
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic; Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic; Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic; Mario Mandzukic
Nigeria: Francis Uzoho; Brian Idowu, Shehu Abdullahi, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong; Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, John Obi Mikel; Odion Ighalo
Time: 8pm (Nigerian time)
Venue: Kaliningrad Stadium
Date: June 16
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