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Croatia beat Nigeria 2-0 with own goal and penalty

Croatia beat Nigeria 2-0 with own goal and penalty

Both Nigeria and Croatia will seek a winning start on Saturday as they bid to get out of a tough Group D featuring Iceland - who finished about Croatia in qualifying - and two-time champions Argentina.

"Top, top players, but we have top players in our ranks", Dalic said.

There is a sense of now-or-never for the Balkans nation at this tournament and Modric said his side would lift their game when they meet Lionel Messi's Argentina in their next match.

Predicting a football game is the shortest walk to disappointment most times; but maybe, as humans, our predictions are mostly clouded by our emotions, which makes us highly subjective. They won just one of their three group games four years ago. "We told them it is impossible".

Croatia claimed pole position in Group D with a hard-fought 2-0 win against Nigeria thanks to an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo and a Luka Modric penalty.

His experience in Russian Federation today will have been a tad different from his usual 9-5 duties, as he and his colleagues produced a sensational defensive performance to thwart Lionel Messi and co. and claim their first World Cup point at the first time of asking.

In Russia's sleepy European exclave of Kaliningrad - perhaps best known for its nuclear missile sites - the much-hyped youngsters of Nigeria struggled to ignite against Croatia's midfield technicians.

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Modric's corner was flicked on by Ante Rebic.

Nigeria came close to drawing level but Iwobi's strike was blocked by the Croats defenders as they led by a lone goal at half time.

Modric's gilded right foot guided it to Uzoho's right side. There was nothing he could do about the first goal Nigeria conceded and I hope Rohr sticks with him for the next game.

"Sometimes we were a little bit naive on set pieces but we will work on it".

Nigeria lost 2-1 to England at Wembley and fell to a turgid 1-0 defeat by the Czech Republic to leave their German coach Gernot Rohr plenty of selection headaches, particularly in attack.

"We are only one point behind (Iceland) and all is in our hands so let's be positive".

Despite fears pre-match, there was no reports of any racist chanting from among the near-capacity crowd.