The Super Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign on a bad note as they fell 2-0 to Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia on Saturday night.
An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo on 33 minutes and a well-taken penalty by Luka Modric in the 70th minute gave the Croatians the win.
Both goals were gifted to the Croatians. The first resulted from Mario Mandzukic’s header from Modric corner which came off Etebo’s foot and rolled into the net. The second came from a penalty awarded after William Troost-Ekong needlessly grappled with Mandzukic inside the box.
Croatia, who prior to the clash had won only one of last seven World Cup games, bettered their record by sealing the victory in their very first meeting with Nigeria.
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The Europeans are also earning a win in their opening game of a World Cup for the first time since their debut in the competition in 1998 (3-1 against Jamaica).
The Eagles, on the other hand, have lost their last three World Cup games – their longest run since a run of four between 1998 and 2002.
The own goal by Etebo means that Nigeria became the first team in World Cup history to concede two consecutive own goals in the competition – the last one happening at the 2014 edition by Joseph Yobo against France.
Earlier on Saturday, the other Group D game between Argentina and Iceland ended in a 1-1 draw.
As it stands, Croatia sit at the top of the group with three points, followed by Argentina and Iceland with one point each, while Nigeria sit at the bottom.
The Eagles will hope to reboost their chances of surviving the group when they face Iceland in their next game on Friday June 22.
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