Croatia didn’t create many chances, but they took advantage of a couple key Nigerian mistakes to open their World Cup with a 2-0 victory.
A 32nd minute own goal off Oghenekaro Etebo and a Luka Modric finish from the spot in the 71st were enough to see Croatia past Nigeria in their World Cup opener.
Both of Croatia’s goals materialized from set pieces. The first was directly off a corner just after the half-hour mark. Modric’s take fell to Mario Mandzukic, who got a shot away but it took a deflection off Etebo to bumble into the back of the net.
The second was a penalty against William Troost-Ekong, who was caught with his arms all over Mandzukic as he attempted to reach a corner. Modric subsequently stepped to the spot and had no trouble at all slotting the ball home.
The match overall was a very defensive one. Both sides played strong defense in open play and didn’t allow the other side many opportunities. Once Croatia went up by a pair of goals, Nigeria’s attack stook little chance at penetrating their defensive shield.
Croatia now sits atop Group D thanks to the victory. Their next match is Thursday against Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Nigeria. meanwhile, is bringing up the rear in the group and will face Iceland on Thursday.
Man of the Match
Luka Modric was instrumental in the midfield all match long, even before he added the sealing goal.
Moment of the Match
Nigeria were still well in the match until Modric scored from the spot in the 71st minute.
Match to Forget
William Troost-Ekong will regret his overzealous man-marking on what turned out to be a crucial corner late in the match.