How A Combination Of Real Madrid,Barca And Juventus (Croatian) Players Outclassed Super Eagles In Russia

Croatia Beat Nigeria 2-0

A Luka Modric penalty and an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo gave former semi - finalists Croatia an easy 2 - 0 win over Nigeria in their World Cup Group D opener on Saturday.

In Russia’ s sleepy European exclave of Kaliningrad — perhaps best known for its nuclear missile sites — the much -hyped youngsters of Nigeria struggled to ignite against Croatia ’ s midfield technicians.

With rivals Argentina and Iceland only managing a 1 - 1 draw earlier Saturday in Saransk , both sides had a chance to take control of Group D .

Nigeria , knowing they were always likely to struggle for possession against a central one- two of Modric and Ivan Rakitic, were content to sit back and allow Croatia to come to them .

But they were rigid and well - organised, and largely restricted Modric ’ s distribution to the flanks, where Croatia’ s final ball was poor .

After 10 minutes , Juventus target man Mario Mandzukic teed up Ivan Perisic at the edge of the area only for the Inter Milan forward to blaze over .

Croatia, semi - finalists at France ’ 98, have struggled to live up to the lofty expectations borne of an embarrassment of midfield riches, and meekly lost their World Cup opener 3- 1 to hosts Brazil four years ago.

There is a sense of now - or - never for the Balkans nation at this tournament, in stark contrast to Nigeria , who brought the competition’ s youngest squad to Russia.

Coach Gernot Rohr kept faith in 19- year -old keeper Francis Uzoho but the Deportivo stopper’ s first real action was picking the ball out of the net .

Just after the half - hour mark , Mandzukic, industrious in his hold- up play, chested a Andrej Kramaric cross back to Ante Rebic , whose fizzing shot was blocked. The resulting corner saw Rebic return the favour with a near - post flick on met by a diving Mandzukic.

Etebo was wrong- footed and bundled into his own net.

Nigeria responded well , with Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi ’ s shot from a cleared free kick blocked on 45 minutes and his Premier League colleague Victor Moses shooting wide from 30 yards on the stroke of half time .

The Super Eagles had the best of the start of the second period, forcing Croatia to bat away three corners in succession , before Moses again snatched a shot wide of Danjiel Subasic ’ s left upright .

But just as Nigeria showed some signs of life, William Ekong held down Mandzukic from a cross in the area and referee Sandro did not hesitate to point to the spot.

Modric ’ s gilded right foot guided it to Uzoho ’ s right side.

The Real Madrid maestro was not at his best for much of the night , but in truth he did not need to be as Nigeria looked ponderous on the ball and crucially short of big - game experience .

Despite fears pre - match, there was no reports of any racist chanting from among the near - capacity crowd .


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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