Croatia top Group D with win over Nigeria
Croatia have gone top of Group D after the first round of matches by beating Nigeria 2-0.
Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal put Croatia ahead before halftime and Luka Modric added a second from the spot with 19 minutes to spare to secure the victory for Croatia.
The result means that Croatia are the only Group D side to win so far after Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland earlier in the day.
Nigeria did well to stifle the Croatia attack in the early stage and it took 14 minutes for the first sight on goal. Ivan Perisic fired over the bar from 20 yards though.
Ante Rebic was Croatia’s main outlet down the left wing and he was involved in Croatia’s first goal when his strike was deflected behind. The corner was aimed towards Mario Mandzukic whose header looked to be going wide but it bounced off new Stoke City signing Etebo and ended up in the back of the net.
Andrej Kramaric’s header nearly deceived Francis Uzoho but the ball looped onto the top of the net after Ivan Rakitic’s ball in.
Nigeria had a slight chance before halftime when Victor Moses was fouled by Rebic. The free kick fell to Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi but his goalbound drive was blocked.
Leon Balogun could have levelled just after the restart, too, but Mandzukic was back to deny the defender.
The first shot on target finally came on the hour mark when a long ball was sent towards former Watford man Odion Ighalo and his header ran through to Danijel Subasic.
Nigeria did not have any urgency to their play, strange for a side one goal down at the World Cup. Moses was their best outlet but he was often crowded out.
Modric put the result beyond doubt in the 71st minute after William Troost-Ekong brought down Mandzukic. The Real Madrid midfielder stepped up to send the ball into the right side of the net.
Croatia continue their campaign against Argentina on Thursday, while Nigeria play Iceland next.