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As it happened: 2018 World Cup - Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

By Joseph Kizza

Added 16th June 2018 08:58 PM

Croatia go top of the Group of Death after beating Nigeria 2-0.

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Croatia go top of the Group of Death after beating Nigeria 2-0.


Live reporting by Joseph Kizza




12:05am    Good night

I will sign out from here. Next stop in this Focus on Africa coverage: Tunisia v England on Monday at 9:00pm Ugandan time.

Catch you then.



12:02am    Subdued start for Africa

Three games played so far and no positive result yet for Africa.

Egypt fell 1-0 against Uruguay.

Morocco were shocked by Iran by the same margin: 1-0.

And now, Nigeria have been beaten 2-0 by Croatia.

We still have Senegal and Tunisia yet to play.




    FULL-TIME: Croatia 2  Nigeria 0

This one is done and dusted. Croatia take it, thanks to an own-goal by Oghenekaro Etebo and a well-taken penalty by Luka Modric.

Nigeria will be back in action against Iceland in Volgograd next Friday.





It is that time of the game. Referee Sandro Ricci adds four minutes of added time.



87min    Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

The Super Eagles look weary under the humidity of the Kaliningrad Stadium. The players, drenched in sweat, will have to think about their next game in Group D as it appears game over here.

Three minutes to go.

Any consolation goal?



85min    SUBSTITUTION - Croatia

Time is running out for the Super Eagles, and with five minutes left on the clock, the Croatians feel they have the three points in the bag and can afford to take off Mandzukic. His diving header was crucial in the owngoal that put his side on course for victory.



77min    SUBSTITUTION - Croatia

Croatia make another change.

Rebic has played his part and will give way for a fired up Kovacic.



75min    Mighty task

Surely, it is a huge task for Nigeria to come back into this one.

It is even made harder by the fact that they are in the Group of Death and have yet to play Iceland and Argentina.





  71min    GOAL! - Croatia

Modric, the Real Madrid maestro, steps up for the task at hand. In front of him and the back of the net stands youngster Francis Uzoho.

But the Croatian is too good for the Nigerian goalkeeper, whom he sends the wrong way.

Croatia 2 Nigeria 0










Croatia are awarded a penalty after William Ekong's foul on Mandzukic inside the box during a corner kick.

The Nigerian defender protests the yellow card he is 'lucky' to be shown, but despite the intervention of skipper John Mikel Obi, the decision has already been reached.





62min    SUBSTITUTION - Nigeria

As the clock ticks away, the Super Eagles also make reforms. They bring off Alex Iwobi and bring on Ahmed Musa.

We are 28 minutes away from stoppage time.



60min    SUBSTITUTION - Croatia

The first change of the game. Andrej Kramaric is replaced by Marcelo Brozovic.



58min    CLOSE! - Nigeria

The first effort on goal by Nigeria is a header by Odion Ighalo. It's a neat cross and a good nod, but that won't trouble Croatian keeper Subasic.




54min    CLOSE! - Croatia

Dalic Zlatko's men always look dangerous on the attack.

This time, a cross from outfield is threaded to the industrious Rakatic on the left flank, who intercepts it first-time to meet Perisic. It is a glancing effort that is so close yet so far from the incisiveness it deserves to hit the back on the net.




     KICK0FF! - Second-half

We are back for another 45 minutes of football. Croatia leads.



10.55pm    Croatia 1  Nigeria 0

Can Nigeria, the youngest squad at this tournament, claw back into the game?

They had a good game and were only undone by a kick-in-the-teeth owngoal. There are still 45 minutes left to come back into the game.

Believe, Naija.





That wraps up the first half of an entertaining piece of blistering footballing action.

Croatia are, undoubtedly, the happier side.



43min    Croatia 1  Nigeria 0

Croatia looking to maintain their tempo.

They are determined to top the Group of Death.

They have dominated the opening half and are the lucky beneficiaries of an unfortunate episode in the Nigeria box earlier on.




39min    CLOSE! - Croatia

That nearly was two for Croatia. They are in fine form at the moment. Rakatic whips in a delicious cross, which Kramaric heads goalwards, but it hisses a tad over the bar.

So close!



33min    Unfortunate scorer

Every player wants to score, but not in their own net.

That is the unfortunate contribution that Etebo will have to try to dust off his memory. Croatia get a corner, which is whipped in to find the head of Rebic and then Mandzukic's. It's going wide but and its flight into the back of the net is made only easier by a tap off Etebo's legs.

Terrible goal to concede. Croatia won't care how it went in. They are ahead.





     GOAL! - Croatia

An own goal by Nigeria. Oghenekaro Etebo is the unlucky scorer.




30min    YELLOW CARD - Rakitic

And we have the first booking of the game coming at the half-hour mark. The offender is Croatia's Ivan Rakitic for his foul on Victor Moses.



26min    'Cummon ref!'

Croatia's Ante Rebic did not like that one bit.

A delicious cross finds him in the area, but the whistle goes after he appears to have nudged Super Eagles defender Bryan Idowu.

The Croatian forward does not hesitate to express his displeasure with the decision.



23min    Ouch! - Balogun

The Super Eagles have to play one man short as Leon Balogun is temporarily taken off the pitch for some quick medical attention. He appears to have suffered a knock on his now-bloodied nose.

It does not look a serious injury and he should be back in action shortly.



19min    Easy pickings for Uzoho

Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho is drawn into his first meaningful save of the game as he climbs into the air to grab the result of a freekick after Andrej Kramaric was harshly clattered by Leon Balogun.



13min    CLOSE! - Croatia

Nigeria breath!

A super counterattack sees Mandzukic tee up Perisic, who lets rip from about 40 yards out. His shot goes whistling slightly above the crossbar and into the crowd.

So close.




12min    Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

A marauding Victor Moses is brought down on the right flank by Strinic. The take is good but desperate clearances by the Croatian backline from an Alex Iwobi shot send the ball way out of the danger zone.



05min    Quick start

Croatia hit the ground running. They are quick on their feet and are not shy to make quick bursts forward.

Meanwhile, Nigeria, in a rare early surge forward, are awarded a freekick when Etebo is crowded out by Mandzukic and Perisic.

The freekick is yards out of goal, and comes to nothing.






Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci is the man in charge tonight. He gets the game underway.



9:58pm    First-time meeting

Croatia's anthem is sung first.

And a roar rings around the stadium after the Nigerian anthem is sung.

The preliminaries are done, kick-off soon.



9:54pm    A vociferous atmosphere

The stage is set.

The crowds are in fine voice.

Anthems next up.




9:50pm    The lineups

We are ten minutes away from kickoff. Here are the starting lineups.

NIGERIA: Uzoho, Idowu, Ndidi, Ekong, Balogun, Etebo, Ighalo, Mikel (C), Moses, Shehu, Iwobi

CROATIA: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Strinic, Perisic, Lovren, Rakitic, Kramaric, Modric (C), Mandzukic, Rebic, Vida



9:35pm    Modric key for Croatia

Croatia come to Russia with a number of seasoned players.

One of these is Luka Modric, playing at his third World Cup, who plays for European club champions Real Madrid.


But the Croatian maestro is wary of the threat that the Super Eagles could carry.

"Nigeria may be the best African team right now. They play vertically, fast and have great forwards.

"We prefer our own style - possession, tactics and attacking football. That is our biggest advantage," he said in the buildup.



9:28pm    Task at hand: Overturn drought

The Super Eagles, coached by Gernot Rohr, know that they must up their game, considering they have won only once in their last 11 World Cup matches.

Captain Obi Mikel trusts that a young squad could be key.

They want three points tonight.



9:24pm    Colourful Kaliningrad Stadium

It's scenes of friendly fire inside the 50,000-seater Kaliningrad Stadium, which is hosting tonight's game.

Such pictures show you that even in rivalry, sport still unites.




9:19pm    'We seem to have Russian support'

In a press conference ahead of tonight's game, Nigerian captain John Obi Mikel, who some of you may remember playing for English Premier League side Chelsea FC, said they could enjoy some support from the home fans.

"A lot of Russians seems to support the Nigerian team. I dont know why, maybe because of my girlfriend," he told reporters.




9:16pm    Youngest squad

Here is some stat you may not have known:

Nigeria are the youngest squad in Russia, at an average age of just 25 years and 337 days.

Is that a risk?

Or could that play into their hands?





9:13pm    Tough group

It will not be an easy ride for Nigeria, who are pitted with the likes of two-time champions Argentina and Iceland. These two sides played earlier in the day, in a game that saw Barcelona star Lionel Messi miss a penalty.

A win for either Croatia or Nigeria will prove vital in the dynamics of Group D.






9:07pm    Naija fans in high spirits

That's how you prepare for the big one . . .



9:03pm    All going down at 10:00pm

We will have the kickoff for the Croatia v Nigeria match at 10:00pm Ugandan time.

There is still plenty of time to go grab yourself a snack and settle into your seat for some late-night World Cup action.



9:00pm    Hello and welcome

Good evening everyone.

Africa is back in contention. After Egypt and Morocco played their opening games on Friday, both losing to Uruguay and Iran respectively, all eyes on the continent fall on Nigeria.


There is optimism that the Super Eagles can fashion a win against a tricky Croatia side.

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