Kaliningrad (Russia), June 17: Croatia on Saturday, June 16, beat Nigeria by 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup 2018 and went to the top of the Group D points table. Veteran striker Mario Mandzukic played his part in both the goals from Croatia, who now have three points. The other teams in the group, Argentina and Iceland, played a 1-1 draw earlier in the day in Kazan. The FIFA World Cup 2018 games for the Group D contestants was played at the Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday.

Croatia, which had dominated the game from the beginning, had its Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic making it critical for Nigeria. They made forward passes and stopped Nigeria’s mobility towards Croatian goal from the very beginning of the game. Croatian left winger Ivan Perisic had the first shot on goal as Mandzukic teed off a counter-attack but the Inter Milan man’s shot from outside of the box sailed over the cross-bar in the 13th minute.

As the football game went on, Croatia kept mounting pressure on Nigeria with each passing time while the latter struggled to get into the box, let alone making a shot on goal. Chelsea right winger Victor Moses was impressive but Croatia’s left-back Ivan Strinic, who plays for Italian club Sampdoria, controlled him well.

By the time half of the game completed, Nigeria failed to create anything and hardly looked like getting an equaliser. The European team got its cushion goal in the 71st minute when William Ekong brought down Juventus star Mandzukic inside the box while defending a corner, leading to a penalty from which captain Luka Modric scored.

Afterwards, Croatia withdrew some of their attackers to make it a heavy midfield and successfully defend their two-goal advantage in the opening match.

With IANS inputs