Croatia get off to winning start against Nigeria

+100%-

Kaliningrad, June 17: Croatia claimed pole position in Group D with a hard-fought 2-0 win against Nigeria thanks to an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a Luka Modric penalty.
Midfielder Etebo, who joined Stoke City for Euro 7.2million on Msonday, turned a Modric corner into his own net after Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic both flicked the delivery on.
Nigeria’s previous goal conceded at the World Cup in 2014 was also an own goal, defender Joseph Yobo the unfortunate player to put through his own net in a last-16 defeat to France.
And when William Troost-Ekong needlessly dragged Mandzukic down in the box, captain Modric coolly converted the 71st-minute penalty to give Croatia a winning start on their fifth appearance at the finals.
Croatia had the better of a close contest light on chances in Kaliningrad, with Mandzukic’s aerial power causing plenty of problems for Nigeria, who have the youngest squad at the World Cup.
Gernot Rohr’s men were unable to create a clear opportunity of their own and sit bottom of Group D following the first round of fixtures, Argentina and Iceland having drawn in Moscow earlier on Friday after Lionel Messi missed a penalty.
After a cagey opening, Perisic fired Croatia’s first shot in the 13th minute, narrowly clearing the crossbar after Mandzukic’s strength created the opportunity to shoot.
More solid hold-up play from Mandzukic fed Ante Rebic, whose effort deflected wide, with Croatia scoring the opening goal from the resulting set-piece in the 32nd minute.
(Courtesy: Omnisport)