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National Teams

A Kaliningrad victory

Croatia overcomes
Nigeria in World Cup

Croatia overcomes Nigeria in World Cup opener
photo by: HNS
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Croatia national football team kicked off its World Cup campaign with a Kaliningrad victory over Nigeria (2:0).

2018 FIFA World Cup, Group D.
Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad.

Referee: S. Ricci (Brazil)

Goals: 1:0 - Etebo (32' - og), 2:0 - Modrić (72' - 11m)

Cautions: Rakitić (30'), Ekong (70'), Brozović (89')

Croatia: Subašić, Strinić, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko, Modrić, Rakitić, Perišić, Kramarić (60' Brozović), Rebić (78' Kovačić), Mandžukić (86' Pjaca). Head coach: Z. Dalić.

Nigeria: Uzoho, Shehu, Balogun, Ekong, Idowu, Ndidi, Etebo, Mikel (88' Nwankwo), Moses, Iwobi (62' Musa), Ighalo (73' Iheanacho). Head coach: G. Rohr.

For the first time after France '98, Croatia managed to secure victory in its World Cup opening match. In Kaliningrad, the Vatreni defeated Nigeria 2:0.

Perišić and Kramarić started off with quality efforts just off target, and Croatia took the lead on 32 minutes. Modrić's corner kick was followed by a Mandžukić header, while Etebo deflected the shot into his own net. Shortly before half-time, Kramarić had another chance.

After the break, Nigeria searched for an equalizer, but Croatia defence stood firm - alongside a couple of missed opportunities for the African team.

On 70 minutes, however, Mandžukić was fouled in the box, and captain Modrić calmly converted the penalty to double Croatia's lead.

Later on, Balogun and Ighalo tried to endanger Subašić, to no avail, and in the closing minutes it was Kovačić who failed to score Croatia's third.

In the other Group D first round match, Argentina and Iceland shared the spoils (1:1). In the second round, Argentina - Croatia match is scheduled on 21 June at Nizhny Novgorod (20:00 CET), while Nigeria - Iceland play on 22 June at Volgograd (17:00 CET).

2018 FIFA World Cup, Group D:
1. Croatia 3
2. Argentina 1
3. Iceland 1
4. Nigeria 0

16.06.2018.. Spectators: 31136
Referees: Sandro Ricchi (BRA), Emerson De Carvalho (BRA), Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth referee: Antonio Mateu (ESP)
23Danijel Subašić23Francis Uzoho
9Andrej Kramarić
2Bryan Idowu
7Ivan Rakitić
4Wilfred Ndidi
10Luka Modrić
5William Ekong
2Šime Vrsaljko6Leon Balogun
6Dejan Lovren8Oghenekaro Etebo
18Ante Rebić
9Odion Ighalo
4Ivan Perišić10John Obi MIkel
3Ivan Strinić11VIctor Moses
17Mario Mandžukić
12Abdullahi Shehu
21Domagoj Vida18Alex Iwobi
1Dominik Livaković1Ikechukwu Ezenwa
12Lovre Kalinić16Daniel Akpeyi
14Filip Bradarić3Elderson Echiejile
8Mateo Kovačić
7Ahmed Musa
5Vedran Ćorluka13Simeon Nwankwo
15Duje Ćaleta-Car14Kelechi Iheanacho
13Tin Jedvaj15Joel Obi
20Marko Pjaca
17Ogenyi Onazi
22Josip Pivarić19John Ogu
19Milan Badelj20Chidozie Awaziem
11Marcelo Brozović
21Tyronne Ebuehi
16Nikola Kalinić22Kenneth Omerou
Zlatko DalićGernot Rohr

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalić and Croatia captain Luka Modrić held a press conference regarding the 2018 FIFA World Cup opener against Nigeria.

Zlatko Dalić

"Croatia has to stay true to its style of play, technicall perfect possession, but of course we need to take care of Nigeria youngsters. I believe in our creativity, which is our driving force, and I am fully concentrated on my team. We respect Nigeria, knowing how dangerous they can be in attacks, especially counterattacks, but remain optimistic. It will be an attractive encounter, and I know we can win it. We are ready".

"I have decided on the starting lineup, but my practice is not to reveal it. I am not afraid of this challenge, and I try to transmit this faith to my players. This generation can achieve something big, I know what the people expect from us. We need to present our quality, and the opening win would give us wings. We are focused and we rely on our strengths".

Luka Modrić

"This Croatian generation is very good. We play in major clubs, we are a quality combination of youth and experience, a the nation rightfully expects a lot. Rest assured that we expect a lot from ourselves as well. I hope this pressure will not weigh us down, and that we will justify all the compliments that go our way, and finally achieve something we know we really can. Needing a bit of luck, Croatia is confident and I believe we will perform well".

"Being aware of Nigerian qualities - they are probably the best African team, playing pacey, direct football with excellent forwards - there are no favourites in the World Cup openers. This tie will be tough to call, and we will respond accordingly, playing as we have agreed to, showing what we can against a tough opponent. We hope to reach the second round, to give our fans something to cheer about".


foto: HNS