Match No.8 : Croatia (2) – Nigeria (0)

Stadium: Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Match No.8, Croatia vs Nigeria
Match No.8, Croatia vs Nigeria

Match Story:

This is the first time in history of Football that we watched Croatia vs Nigeria. Croatia was a better team in paper and also, they proved it in the game. Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Surprisingly Argentina drew with Iceland in the early match, but Croatia didn’t follow them. They played good game, while dominating for long period with a possession of 55%. But, they struggled to penetrate the Nigerian defence and failed repeatedly to find the target with speculative shots from well outside the box. Nigeria also defended well until the OWN goal by Etebo at 32’ of the game. The first goal came just after the half-hour of the match by an own goal. Just after the OG both team missed the chances, but Croatia always showed who the boss is. Nigerian is never look threatened to them.

After Half time Nigeria got few corner kicks but couldn’t make them count at all. Not even a single goal targeted in the first half by both the sides. Nigeria showed their energy after the Half time but just after 20 minutes Real Madrid Star mid fielder again came to light. He doesn’t miss these easy penalty and Croatia doubled their lead. It was three points for Croatia and top the table in the Group D.

Time Line:

01’ – At very first minute of the match Nigeria got the chance and their main man Moses couldn’t find his team mate, though it was a good ball by him.

14’ – Good first touch pass by Manzukic and a top shot from Perisic but just over the bar, life for Nigeria.

30’ – Rackitic harsh tackle against Moses, and referee booked him yellow and finally the first yellow card of the match.

32’ – Goal!! Nice Corner took by Luca, OMG Etebo can’t believe it. He helped Manzukic header to the net and Croatia finally got the breakthrough and heart breaking for Nigerian fan.

39’ – Great Aerial pass from Barcelona’s Mid fielder and Kramaric Missed the pole by an inch.

*Half Time* Croatia 1 – 0 Nigeria

60’ – Substitution!! First substitution of the match as Croatia substitute Kramaric with Brozovic.

62’ – Substitution!! First substitution from Nigeria they replace Iwobi with MUSA, so both the team replaced their FW with FW.

71’ – Goal!! Corner from Luca modric but what Ekong did in the box. Clearly blocked Mandzukic and referee punished him with a yellow card and sure penalty. Real Madrid midfielder converted it to the goal and Croatia got their breathing space. Sharp penalty from Real Madrid star and Croatia captain to take the lead by 2-0.

72’ – Another Substitution from Nigeria IHENAACHO replaced IGHAL.

78’ – Another Substitution from Croatia KOVACIC replaced REBIC.

86’- Mandzukic replaced by PJACA, manager knows it that time is the only matter now and do not want any injuries to his main striker.

88’ – Another Substitution from Nigeria NWAKNWO replaced MIKEL. All formal replacement nothing in the match for Nigeria now they know that they are second in this match.

FT: Croatia 2 – 0 Nigeria

Key Players:

Croatia:

Luca Modric (***)

Real Madrid star midfielder, always a goal maker for Madrid and his National team. He showed why Real Madrid have this much faith in his skill, a great match for him as well. He always very sharp in corner kicks and also both the goal came through the corner taken by this man.

Ivan Rakitic (**)

Barcelona CMF made some good move in the game but unfortunately could not count. But that is what you can demand from your CMF, also targeted Nigerian Victor Moses who can make some damage to Croatian defense.

Nigeria:

Victor Moses (*)

Chelsea man played for lots of team as a loan player and always have full of energy. But in the field, you have to score for your team that is what they need from you. Croatian know what he can do, and their defender done all the home work to stop him.

Player Ratings:

*** Exceeded expectation  ** Met expectation  * didn’t meet expectation

Croatia Rating Role Nigeria Rating  Role
Subasic ** GK Uzaho * GK
Strinic * DF Idowu * DF
Lovren ** DF Ekong * DF
Vida * DF Balogun ** DF
Vrsaljko * DF Shehu * DF
Modric(1) *** MF Etebo(OG) * MF
Rakitic ** MF Ndidi ** MF
Perisic * FW Iwobi * FW
Kramaric * FW Mikel * MF
Rebic * FW Moses * FW
Mandzukic * FW Ighalo * FW
Brozovic * MF A Musa * FW
Kovacic * MF Iheanancho * FW
Pjaca * FW Nwankwo * FW

Luka Modric (1) is the only scorer of the match while Etebo (OG) score his own goal unfortunately.

Outstanding Player:

Luka Modric: Undoubtedly the man of the match of the game, he was brilliant in his zone and created some crucial opportunities. The captain was leading from the front you can say, this is what every team should want from their skipper to lead from the front.

Luka Modric and the team is celebrating goal
Luka Modric and the team is celebrating goal

Team Performance:

Croatia:

They showed their class. In the early phase of the game they couldn’t enter that deep but after the breakthrough they never looked back. Their captain sealed the match for them in the 70th min of the game. They dominated all the game and deserved win for Croatian. They have some great goal maker, so their strategy was to make goal but also took some chances from outside the box.

Nigeria:

At start showed their energy but in this game,  you have to balance your energy till the last. You don’t have any breathing space, after that own goal they soaked. Again, after the first half they showed their energy but after Modric goal, they lost their hope. Nigerian has to re-build their thought and they have lots of good player. Surely, they will challenge other team if they can conceive their energy till the game end.

Viewer Rating: **

Not a great match for neutral fans, almost a single sided game after the clincher from Modric in the 70th min of the game. Nigerian lost their all hope and it all shown in the field too. Over all, it was easy win for Croatian.

Match Implication:

First match and crucial win for Croatia as ARG drew with Iceland. The result made Croatia table topper and ARG must think for their next features. Nigeria can be tough for anybody on their day. It is a tough group and much needed 3 points for Croatia.

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