Nigeria’s players react after during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Croatia and Nigeria at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
A lacklustre display by the two teams, but the Super Eagles offered so little to challenge the Croats.
Croatia benefitted from a slice of luck as an own goal by Etebo gave them the opener.
The Eagles came in the second half with more enthusiasm and possession of the ball until William Troost-Ekong brought down Mandzukic in the box, for Modric to tuck home a penalty.
The result sees Nigeria at the bottom of the table with two goals deficit, following Argentina’s surprise draw (1 – 1) with Iceland earlier today.
Nigeria will face Iceland on Friday while Croatia will take on Argentina.
Here is how the Super Eagles fared in their first game at Russia
Francis Uzoho: The 19-year-old appeared to be more composed but could do nothing about the Croatia first goal and he was sent a wrong direction by the penalty. Although he was apt but still need to work on his ball pull out and distribution. 5/10
Shehu Abdullahi: He did his fair share of defensive contribution, did so well to keep Perisic at arm’s length but he offered little going forward. 5/10
Leon Balogun: He was the best at the defence for the Super Eagles today. He tried so much to make a solid defence. He needs to coordinate the defence for better results. 6/10
William Troost-Ekong: Also put in his best to deal with a number of set pieces until his silly attack on Mandzukic that brought the penalty. 5/10
Brain Idowu: He produced some quality push for the team, with some brilliant set pieces. Well coordinated at the back too. He provided more attacks than Iwobi on the left. 6/10
Wilfred Ndidi: He wasn’t on top of his game – no spark, no bite! Probably because he just returned from his injury. He needs to up his game to give more life to the midfield. 4/10
Oghenekaro Etebo: Unlucky to have the own goal. He was so confident on the ball, ready to push the team forward with his run and possessive passes. 5/10
John Obi Mikel: Played a more advanced role in the first half, could not deliver the work – to link up the midfield and striker. He tried to do some more distribution of the ball during the second half but the team want some urgency from their captain which Mikel didn’t provide. 6/10
Alex Iwobi: He was off the game almost all through until the last minutes he fired a fine low drive that was blocked by Lovren. We hope Iwobi would be more into the game next match against Iceland. 4/10
Victor Moses: The only tooth Nigeria has upfront, but was always down too easily. Had some nice corner kicks but were not converted. He was the man of the match for the Super Eagles. 6.5/10
Odion Ighalo: An isolated striker will have no impact in a game unless he fights for the ball. He held the ball well when he got the chance, but he needs to be a goal-getter. 4.5/10
Ahmed Musa: Struggled to get the ball and even struggled to make use of the ball. He has not been on top of his game over time and this need to be checked for a better team performance. 4/10
Kelechi Iheanacho: He came in after the second goal. Wasn’t able to deliver much as the team spirit was already down. He made use of his space well during his short minutes of play.
I will tick him to start the next match if I am being asked. 4/10
Simy Nwankwo: He came in for Mikel just about 3 minutes to go, but no serious action from him in yesterday’s game. 3/10