Croatia Tops Nigeria to Take Control of Group D

Croatia’s second objective got here on one other nook kick, one of their six within the match. Nigeria was in a position to clear the nook away, however solely as a result of defender William Troost-Ekong wrapped his arms round Mandzukic, stopping him from attacking the ball. Troost-Ekong was given a yellow card, and Modric whipped the ball into the decrease nook of the objective.

Despite a younger, speedy and guile-filled staff, Nigeria continued to look ponderous on the ball, and by no means critically threatened to claw a objective again.

Croatia’s golden era is taking benefit of what is probably going their final likelihood to advance deeply right into a match, whereas Nigeria, the youngest staff on the World Cup, appear to be they is likely to be 4 years away.

92’: Croatia Misses Chance, But It Won’t Matter

Mateo Kovacic carried the ball into the Nigerian penalty field trying to finish the day with a objective, however 19-year-old Nigerian keeper Francis Uzoho was equal to the duty and made a sliding save.

After one final impotent Nigerian assault, the ref blows the whistle.

86’: Mandzukic’s Day Is Over

As he goes off for Marko Pjaca. Mandzukic’s title gained’t present up on the rating sheet, however it was his diving header that brought on the personal objective, and he gained the penalty that Luka Modric transformed for Croatia’s second.

78’: Croatia in Control

Croatia is content material to go the ball round and make Nigeria chase the sport.

Nigeria has introduced the 6’2” Kelechi Iheanacho on as they scramble to come again.

71’: GOAL! Croatia Up 2-Zero

Croatia doubles its lead as Luka Modric slots the ball into the nook from the penalty spot.

The penalty was known as by Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci on a Croatian nook kick. As the ball swung on, Nigerian defender William Troost-Ekong wrapped his arms round Mario Mandzukic, and virtually tackled him to the bottom. Troost-Ekong picked up a yellow card for his hassle!

62’: Substitutions

With the match two-thirds over, each groups have made their first substitutions. Croatia brings Marcelo Brozovic, a box-to-box midfielder, on for Andrej Kramaric, who has been working as a second striker immediately. This ought to push Luka Modric farther ahead.

For Nigeria, Ahmed Musa, a speedy and difficult attacking participant, replaces striker Alex Iwobi.

59’: A Shot On Goal!

Odion Ighalo will get his head on a cross, however it bounces harmlessly into Danijel Subasic’s arms.

55’: Still No Shots On Goal

But they’ve obtained to be coming. Both groups are discovering it straightforward to bypass the midfield and assault their opponent’s objective, however the crosses and thru balls are being cleared.

48’: Nigeria Comes Out Strong

The second half begins, and instantly Nigeria has the ball in Croatia’s half. But can they rating a objective?

Nigeria wins three straight corners, all launched into the field by Victor Moses, however are unable to do something with them.

Halftime

Croatia’s quite a few crosses, layoffs and headers lastly led to a 32nd minute objective. Nigeria will want to determine one thing completely different within the remaining third if they need to get again into this match.

45’: Nigeria Chance Denied

Nigeria lastly sustains some possession and methodically works the ball ahead, earlier than Victor Moses is fouled within the remaining third. The ensuing cross pops out to Alex Iwobi on the sting of the field, however his highly effective shot is blocked.

38’: Croatia Keeps Pressure On

Croatia has dominated possession since scoring the primary objective, and got here shut to a second. Ivan Rakitic directed a cross to Andrej Kramaric, however Kramaric’s penalty spot header loops simply over.

32’ GOAL! Croatia Up, 1-Zero

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic’s places a diving header off Oghenekaro Etebo and into the again of the online, with it being dominated an personal objective. Luka Modric swung a nook kick in, earlier than it was headed into the neighborhood of Mandzukic.

31’: First Yellow Card

Victor Moses has reinvented his profession the final couple of years as a wingback for Chelsea. While he hasn’t fairly put it collectively but immediately, it’s enjoyable watching the Nigerian play larger up on the pitch.

Ivan Rakitic picks up the primary yellow card on the day after stepping on Moses’s ankle.

20’: No Shots, But Plenty of Action

The match stays Zero-Zero with no photographs on objective, however not for a scarcity of making an attempt. Both groups are attacking the objective — Croatia by way of their midfield, Nigeria a bit extra direct down the wings — however haven’t been in a position to discover the ultimate ball.

Photo

Croatia’s Ante Rebic and Nigeria’s Shehu Abdullahi throughout Saturday’s World Cup match in Kaliningrad.

Credit
Matthew Childs/Reuters

14’: Chance!

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic lays the ball off for Ivan Perisic to take a shot from the highest of the field, however it flies harmlessly over.

7’: Even Play So Far

Croatia has regarded extra comfy on the ball early, however Nigeria has gained two free kicks in Croatia’s half. No harmful possibilities but.

1’: And We’re Off!

Croatia is carrying its conventional crimson and white checkerboard sample, whereas Nigeria is in stable darkish inexperienced. I suppose we’ll have to wait to see their unimaginable electrical inexperienced jerseys.

Match Lineups

Croatia

23 Danijel Subasic

21 Domagoj Vida

6 Dejan Lovren

three Ivan Strinic

2 Sime Vrsaljko

9 Andrej Kramaric

10 Luka Modric

7 Ivan Rakitic

17 Mario Mandzukic

four Ivan Perisic

18 Ante Rebic

Nigeria

23 Francis Uzoho

6 Leon Balogun

5 William Troost-Ekong

2 Bryan Idowu

12 Abdullahi Shehu

10 John Obi Mikel

eight Oghenekaro Etebo

four Wilfred Ndidi

9 Odion Ighalo

18 Alex Iwobi

11 Victor Moses

Nigeria vs. Croatia Top Story Lines

• This is Croatia’s most proficient facet since their 1998 staff superior to the World Cup semifinals, led by Golden Boot winner Davor Suker. They gained their group at Euro 2016, however have been defeated 1-Zero within the spherical of 16 by eventual winner Portugal, on a heartbreaking 117th minute objective.

• If Nigeria can advance to the spherical of 16, they are going to be trying to win their first-ever World Cup knockout spherical match.

• Premier League followers are aware of Mikel John Obi, who was a defensive stalwart in Chelsea’s midfield for a decade. For Nigeria, nevertheless, he performs a way more attacking position, normally because the farthest ahead midfielder.

• Croatia’s power is within the midfield, the place they’ve three gamers — Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovacic — who play for La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

• Nigeria is managed by the German Gernot Rohr, who has made a second profession out of main African nationwide groups, however his earlier stops in Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso weren’t notably profitable.

Some Pregame Reading

• Croatia and Nigeria have two of the extra unique kits this World Cup.

• Catch up on the opposite Group D match, this morning’s 1-1 draw between Argentina and Iceland in Moscow

• Against the again drop of the World Cup, Zdravko Mamic, a longtime govt at Croatian powerhouse membership Dinamo Zagreb, was sentenced to six-and-a-half-years in jail final week, associated to switch irregularities together with the transfers of Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren, who will begin immediately.

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