Hopes of a successful World Cup 2018 campaign by Nigeria in Russia were dashed on Saturday as Oghenekaro Etebo flicked an own goal in black Africa’s largest nation’s opening qualifier against Croatia.
Outside of a smart goal from Croatia in the 32nd minutes, the Blazers and Nigeria traded jabs, but never landed any as the first 45 minutes expired. Croatia has a single-goal advantage.
The Group D match is crucial after favorite Argentina tied with Iceland earlier in the day. The winner in the match would get three points and vault to the top of the group’s standings. It’d likely secure a pace for the victor in the knockout stage.
Luka Modric sent a beautiful corner into the 6-yard box, that was flicked to the back post where Mario Mandzukic was waiting. He got his head on the ball, but Oghenekaro Etebo’s back leg knocked it in to the net for an own goal in the 32nd minute.
Yellow card on Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic
In came in the 30th minute. First of the game.
An early chance for Croatia
Gosh, that midfield is good. In the 14th minute, the Blazers worked the ball upfield with no trouble at all, then, with some pretty passing, set up Ivan Perisic for a blast from 20 yards out that just missed high.
It’s going to be a great night for Croatia if it can hold that kind of ball possession in the midfield.
*Additional reporting by Washington Post