Croatia Vs. Nigeria: Own Goal, Penalty Kick Lift Vatreni To Group D Win

Nigeria didn’t play well Saturday, but it didn’t do itself any favors either.

Croatia claimed a 2-0 win in its 2018 Fifa World Cup Group D opener thanks in large part to a pair of costly mistakes made by the Super Eagles. In fact, the Blazers only potted one of the two goals scored in the match at Kaliningrad Stadium. But the Croatians certainly will take the good fortune, which helped lift them to the top of the Group D standings after Argentina and Iceland settled for a 1-1 draw earlier Saturday.

The game got off to a terribly slow start, with neither team registering a single shot on target in the first half. But a heap of luck found Croatia in the 32nd minute, as Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal served as the match’s opening tally.

From there, the Nigerians likely should have known their chances at victory were slim.

While the Super Eagles’ play improved after Etebo’s costly error, they reverted back to their reckless ways just over halfway through the second frame. Croatia was awarded a penalty kick in the 71st minute after William Ekong wrestled down Mario Mandzukic, and Luka Modric made sure to capitalize on the golden opportunity.

Man of the match: Modric’s poise and precision from the spot effectively put the finishing touches on Croatia’s victory.

Next up: Croatia will battle Argentina in its second Group D game Thursday, while Nigeria will resume action Friday against Iceland.

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Thumbnail photo via FOX Soccer

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