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Croatia vs Nigeria: Wingless Eagles Fail to fly against Croatia

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria failed to pick up a point against Croatia as they were beaten 2 nil. 

Croatia go top of Group D ahead of their game against Argentina on Thursday. That was a routine win and possibly the easiest nights work for Subasic in goal. An own goal from Etebo and a penalty from Modric did the damage but Nigeria have some serious work to do after such a flat performance on the world’s biggest stage.

An own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a penalty converted by Luka Modric gave the Croatians the three points . It was the Europeans ’ first win at the World Cup opening match since 1998 .

Croatia top Group D while Argentina are joint second with Iceland on one point each . Nigeria are last in the group with no point .

Eagles coach Gernot Rohr started teenager Francis Uzoho in goal while Shehu Adullahi , William Troost – Ekong , Leon Balogun and Brian Idowu were in the defence . Captain Mikel Obi , Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi were in the midfield. China -based striker Odion Ighalo , Chelsea wing -back Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi were in the attack .

Nigeria started the better of the two sides as they settled against the Croats but the Europeans grew into the game and battled the Eagles for the control of the midfield. Unlike in their pre – World Cup friendlies , the Eagles were the better side in the first half .

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However , the creativity of Real Madrid midfielder Modric and Barcelona holding midfielder Ivan Rakitic , gave the Eagles midfield a tough time as both sides sized each other up .

The Eagles ’ first chance came in the second minute when Moses ’ free – kick was gathered by the Croat goalkeeper – following a foul on the Chelsea wing – back .

Croatia ’ s first chance came in the 14 th minute when Rakitic shot over the bar with Uzoho badly exposed. Moses and Iwobi failed to complement Ighalo in the attack as the Eagles failed to make a meaningful use of the set pieces coming their way .

However , the Eagles went behind in the 32 nd when the defenders failed to effectively deal with a corner kick . The ball fell to Mandzukic whose header was diverted into the net by Etebo .

Nigeria rallied and searched for the equaliser but they failed to get past a dogged Croatian defence .

Rohr brought on Ahmed Musa for Iwobi but it failed to change the pace of the Eagles threat in the attack . The Croatians doubled their lead in the 70 th minute after Troost – Ekong hauled down Mandzukic in the area following a corner kick . Modric converted the resultant penalty to seal the game for the Europeans .

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Nigeria ’ s attack became lively when Rohr substituted Ighalo with Kelechi Iheanacho . However the Croatians forced Uzoho to make a save in the 78 th minute as the Eagles lost control of the match .

Rohr then brought on Simeon Nwankwo for Mikel , as he searched for parity.

The Eagles have thus lost their third opening match at the World Cup – having also lost their opening fixtures in 2002 and 2010 – and on each occasion , they failed to progress from the group stages . Also , the team have failed to score in the last 180 minutes . Their last goal came during their 2 – 1 loss to England in a friendly match .

The Eagles will play Iceland , who drew 1 -1 with Argentina on Saturday , in their second match on Friday.

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