Final Time: Croatia 2 Vs Nigeria 0

LIVE UPDATES: Croatia Vs NigeriaWelcome to ‘Brainnews LIVE UPDATE‘ From the world cup match between Croatia Vs Nigeria today, Saturday at 8p.m. at the Stadion Baltika in Kalinigrad, Russia.

Starting lineups

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Croatia (4-2-3-1)
Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic.

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Nigeria (4-2-3-1)
Uzoho, Idowu, Ekong, Balogun, Shehu, Etebo, Ndidi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo.

8:01PM
KICK OFF: Here we go! Nigeria get us started.

8:02PM
2 mins: Nigeria win a free-kick in the opening 20 seconds as Lovren climbs all over a player 30 yards from goal. Moses’ free-kick is easily cleared and Croatia move out.

Perisic is on the right after all! Rebic is wide left.

8:04PM
4 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Ighalo is crowded out while trying to dribble into the box and Croatia attack quickly down the left wing. Strinic gets to the box and crosses into the area but the defence get it clear.

Vrsaljko shouts in exasperation at the linesman as he fails to win a throw-in he thinks should be his. Save your energy my friend, there are bigger battles to be fought in this match.

8:07PM
7 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Croatia are targeting the left wing at the moment.

Nigeria win a free-kick about 35/40 yards from goal, Moses chips it in and Vrsaljko heads away. Croatia attack down the left again, Rebic inside to Kramaric, then out wide again.

Rebic knocks Moses to the floor (and he goes down really easily) then angrily asks the referee what he’s meant to do in that situation. It’s something we’ve seen quite a lot in this World Cup – defending players dropping to the floor to win easy free-kicks.

8:09PM
9 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Modric is positioned really deep in this Croatia team and hits a long pass over the top towards Mandzukic, winning a corner. It’s taken short… and then Moses gets chopped down by Rakitic as he attempts to break and it’s a free-kick.

8:11PM
11 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0
Croatia fans are whistling and jeering as Nigeria keep possession in their own half for a bit, passing amongst themselves without any pressure from Croatia whatsoever. They seem happy to let Nigeria take the ball past the halfway line before trying to win it it back.

Both teams seem pretty calm on the ball in the early stages.

8:13PM
13 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Solid catch by Subasic. Mikel beats Modric to the ball on the left, moves inside and chips into the area. Subasic jumps and plucks it out of the air with those safe hands.

Moses hits another free-kick into the area but again it’s headed away and then Moses tries a long-range shot which batters into a sea of bodies.

Nigeria keeping up the pressure just now!

Out: Croatia 0 – 0 Nigeria (Ivan Perisic, 14 min)

8:15PM
15 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Brilliant move! Croatia counter quickly, moving the ball from defence to attack with one touch play. They get to the Nigeria final third, Mandzukic lays the ball back to Perisic on the edge of the area.. and he shoots! Just over the bar. Close.

Out: Croatia 0 – 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 16 min)

8:17PM
17 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Kramaric finds some space about 30 yards out and decides to have a punt. He gets a lot of power on that one but the ball pings off the advertising boards beside and behind the goal. Uzoho looked to have it covered anyway.

8:19PM
19 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Croatia win a corner. Modric is enjoying his new hobby of hitting switched passes from the right of midfield towards the left of the Croatia attack and it’s working.

The corner is cleared at the near post. Blurgh.

It’s a little scrappy in the final third for both teams. Croatia win a free-kick 35 yards out and can swing this one into the area.

8:21PM
21 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Rakitic and Modric line up the set piece… Modric crosses from right to left diagonally and the goalkeeper jumps to catch the ball easily.

I’d say Croatia have a bit more control of the game here but Nigeria are just waiting for the chance to counter.

8:23PM
23 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Ighalo finds space on the right as Lovren plays him onside (he’s bad for that) but chooses to try and shoot rather than passing inside to a teammate.

Nigeria keep the attack alive and chip crosses into the box but Etebo’s optimistic volley from 20 yards is well wide.

Balogun has taken an elbow to his face and isn’t particularly pleased about it.

8:25PM
25 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Jon Champion’s commentary:

“I don’t want to concern you but this stadium is sinking. They built it on a swamp.”

Ally McCoist is now asking Champion questions concerning the building of the stadium and whether they can fix it. Nobody seems to know.

I hasten to add that you can’t actually see it sinking, but it is doing that really slowly.

8:27PM
27 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

The crowd feels a little flat in this one, we could do with a goal or something to get them all excited and put a bit of fire into the game.

The commentators sound a little bored too. They’re talking about what people in the crowd are wearing. I’d totally believe it if I saw a photo of them and they were both just on their phones looking at Instagram.

Nothing’s really happening on the pitch.

8:29PM
29 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

Ally McCoist has a wee story about Modric:

“I remember many years ago I went to see the derby in Croatia, and I saw Modric. I said to the then Rangers manager Walter Smith ‘see how much money we’ve got, let’s try and get this little fella from Croatia’. There wasn’t enough in the kitty.”

8:30PM
30 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

GO FORWARD. PLEASE. PLEASE GO FORWARD. PASS IT UP THE PITCH. ANYONE. Ahhhh Shehu’s heard me. He’s launched it… and given Croatia the ball.

Now Croatia are passing around their own half. Come on lads, we’ve been at this for 30 minutes now.

8:32PM
32 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

ACTION! Rebic hits one with power from the edge of the box as Croatia finally put together a decent attacking move. Modric comes across to take the corner.

8:31PM
31 mins – Croatia 0 Nigeria 0

HONK HONK HONK. Rakitic wins the award for first yellow card of the game, putting in a late, sore tackle on Moses’ ankle. His prize is a yellow card.

8:32PM
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!

CROATIA HAVE SCORED!

Croatia 1 – 0 Nigeria (Oghenekaro Etebo, 32 min)

Modric crosses towards the near post, it’s headed on by Mandzukic and then comes off Etebo’s calf at the back post! The ball deflects into the bottom corner of the goal and there’s nothing Uzoho can do about it.

8:37PM
38 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield.

Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him.

Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko’s run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance… but his cross is poor and out for a throw.

8:36PM
36 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Nigeria get near the box but Ighalo’s shot is blocked and now Croatia are taking their time to build up play from the back.

8:37PM
38 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Modric and Rakitic are dropping so deep they are between the centre-backs at the moment. Once the ball gets to halfway they move up into midfield.

Modric is lucky not to be booked for trying to cuddle Etebo to the ground after losing the ball to him.

Kramaric has spotted Vrsaljko’s run into space on the right wing here! There might be a chance… but his cross is poor and out for a throw.

Miss: Croatia 1 – 0 Nigeria (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min)

This is a decent move now, the ball is on the left, Rakitic has it and looks for Kramaric in the area… and he’s got a head on it! The shot lands on the roof of the net but wow that’s close.

8:41PM
40 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

I think Croatia are pushing Vrsaljko higher up the pitch now and it’s helping Croatia to get forward. Lovren’s covering his position when he does and that’s why the midfielders are dropping so deep when Croatia buildup from the back.

It just means someone with a decent eye for a pass and who can actually make one assists with bringing the ball out from the back. Modric turns up here sometimes too and because there are so many players in the centre (the two highlighted ones are the centre-backs) it means the full-backs can get higher up the pitch to stretch the play and get crosses into the area.
8:42PM
42 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Croatia are in total control of this match now. Nigeria don’t pressing them high, sitting behind the halfway line waiting for them to come forward and open up a bit.

8:44PM
44 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

You can see what Croatia are doing with their build-up play here:

8:46PM
45 mins Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Nigeria need to work out a way to keep the ball moving around the Croatia half. Moses has won himself a free-kick on the edge of the area, wide right but has just lost my respect after asking the referee to book his assailant. Poor form, Victor.

Moses stands over the free-kick. It goes to the back post, it’s headed back in and Iwobi is there at the edge of the box! He smashes the volley… and Lovren’s foot blocks the shot before it hits the back of the net. That was travelling.

8:47PM
HALF TIME – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Croatia have a 1-0 lead despite not having a single shot on target. It’s such a strange sport sometimes.

8:51PM
Average positions

It’s sort of like a 2-5-3 really isn’t it? The three strikers are getting on the ball in central areas and the width is coming from the full-backs, while Modric and Rakitic are filling up the middle of the pitch so Nigeria have to go down the flanks.

Nigeria could do with finding a way to stop Croatia attacking them down the flanks without making their middle weaker in doing so. Mikel might have to drop a bit deeper.

The full-backs are losing the battle at the moment and Ighalo has been lonely upfront. He needs a friend.

8:58PM
Nigeria players having a huddle

This is kind of odd and Roy Keane says he hasn’t ever seen it before… but instead of going down the tunnel at half time immediately after the whistle, Nigeria gathered for a huddle on the pitch. Hmmm. Are they absolutely terrified of the hiding their boss is about to unleash on them? Because after that performance he’s within his rights to tear into them.

9:04PM
KICK OFF 2 – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

We’re back! Let’s hope for more Portugal vs Spain than whatever this is. I’ve been forced to watch omnibuses of Wheeler Dealers back at my parents’ house which were more entertaining.

And that’s the same thing every single time. He finds a car, you go ‘I wonder if he’ll manage to get a good deal on that car this time…’ oh my word he’s only gone and done it! Etc.

Croatia start the second half.

9:06PM
48 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Good start for Nigeria here. The win a corner and Balogun very nearly gets a free header on it but a defender jumps in at the last second to deny him. They win another corner.

It’s cleared, Modric chases and then Rebic fouls high up the pitch.

Miss: Croatia 1 – 0 Nigeria (Victor Moses, 49 min)

Nigeria are much better already here.

9:08PM
50 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Moses is up to mischief here. He’s falling over really easily quite often but isn’t being awarded free-kicks. Now he’s trying to get a corner after a smart dribble inside the pitch and a quick snap shot hits the side netting. Goal kick.

9:11PM
53 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

That’s a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is “fouled” by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick.

9:10PM
52 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

The ball sits up for Rakitic to smash from 30 yards but he hits it over the bar.

Neither side has yet had a shot on target.

“He’s got to score!” says McCoist.

In other news, Moses keeps flopping to the floor when he’s within a yard of any opponent. It’s incredibly annoying.

9:13PM
55 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Moses is getting much more of the ball in this half and Ndidi is getting further forward too. Nigeria in control at the start of this half and Croatia don’t seem too bothered about it.

“I can’t believe it. It’s baffling,” is McCoist’s opinion on how lethargic Nigeria and Croatia are here tonight.

9:11PM
53 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

That’s a lovely bit of skill by Iwobi. He drops both shoulders rapidly and wins space inside the box but his shot is blocked, loops into the air and then Rakitic is “fouled” by Ighalo. In reality, Rakitic has just fallen to the ground because Ighalo is much stronger and Rakitic is looking for the free-kick.

9:15PM
57 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

BIG CHANCE! Rakitic finds Perisic with a superb pass out wide and what a cross this is by Perisic. Perfectly curled to round the defence for a striker to attack. Rebic is there in the perfect position to volley from six yards but he smashes it over the bar. Really poor.

9:20PM
62 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions.

9:19PM
60 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

We are now two thirds of the way through this game and neither team has managed to get a shot on target. BUT WAIT! IGHALO HAS HIT THE TARGET! He heads at goal, passing it to Subasic. Not a great effort but there we go ladies and gentlemen: Nigeria are first to get a shot away that has a chance of actually going in.

Croatia substitute Kramaric for Brozovic, who is more of a midfielder.

9:20PM
62 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Iwobi off, Musa on. Can he make the difference? Really quick, excellent on the ball. Nigeria just need to get him in the right positions.

9:28PM
PENALTY! 70 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Perisic wins a corner by attacking Shehu down the left wing. Modric takes his sweet time walking over to take it. Someone’s gone down in the area… IT’S A PENALTY!

And the replays show the referee is right to give it. The defender is literally hugging Mandzukic, both arms around him to stop him jumping. Ekong is booked for it.
9:27PM
68 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Croatia are keeping the ball well, moving it up the pitch and taking their time over the free-kicks they win as Nigeria pester them to try and win possession back. Still no real urgency from Nigeria here… and they could really do with at least a point here. Argentina and Iceland aren’t exactly easy to play against.

9:25PM
66 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Moses is having a great game except for all the play acting. Honestly, it’s infuriating. He skips past a couple of players with a burst of pace and some close control but as soon as a defender bumps into him he falls to the floor. The referee’s probably just waiting for the next obvious dive to book him.
9:22PM
64 mins – Croatia 1 Nigeria 0

Croatia win a free-kick and then a corner. Aaaand Mandzukic heads over the bar.

9:29PM
GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!

Modric hits the back of the net!

“You just fancied him from the word go, didn’t you?” says McCoist as Modric slots the ball bottom left, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

9:32PM
73 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

That penalty was Croatia’s first shot on target.

Croatia are on the counter-attack again and oohhhhhh Vrsaljko backheels the pass through to Rebic! It nutmegs the defender and Croatia have another corner. Best not hold onto the strikers now.

9:36PM
77 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as “terrible”.

9:33PM
75 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

It’s Croatia who have stepped up the tempo now though – Nigeria look beaten.

9:38PM
79 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Kovacic comes on for Rebic. Croatia are on the attack! Perisic is wide left, crosses in and the goalkeeper blocks… the ball is loose and players are closing in to finish the rebound! Nigeria win possession.

Croatia have a free-kick 30 yards out though. Modric will cross this one in.

9:36PM
77 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Etebo tries to kick-start a counter-attack but is quickly blocked in midfield and Nigeria have to build from further back. Musa gets on the ball for what might be the first time, Nigeria work down the right and Iheanacho (who has come on as a substitute) scoops a shot which has been described by former striker Ally McCoist as “terrible”.

9:40PM
82 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

That’s Mandzukic being fouled.

NIGERIA COULD BE IN! The ball is crossed from the left, Musa steams in to attack it… and the defender Strinic is brave to block inside his box. Nigeria have a throw-in.

9:46PM
88 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

It’s getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot… but it’s blocked.

Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo.

9:44PM
86 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Nigeria still don’t seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still.

Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic.

9:43PM
84 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Perisic goes down clutching his head as Shehu accidentally elbows him in the head while going for a header. It looks like an accident anyway. Perisic has survived.

9:51PM
90 mins +3 – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

What. A. Miss. That’s incredible. Croatia should be 3-0 up but with Perisic standing in miles of space inside the box waiting for a pass to tap into an empty net, Kovacic has gone for the near post from about eight yards and hit the goalkeeper. Perisic must be raging with him.
9:50PM
90 mins +2 – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Four minutes of added time is coming our way. Croatia just slowly passing around and killing the game off, drawing fouls and then walking over to take the free-kick. Nigeria fans must be really disheartened with this performance – there’s just no energy from their team tonight. So disappointing.
9:48PM
90 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Yellow card for Brozovic. Moses has another chance to hit a free-kick into the box.

Where’s the urgency? Nigeria have about four minutes left to get anything out of this match. Moses has been really impressive tonight on the right wing but he needs help.
9:46PM
88 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

It’s getting exciting now! Nigeria have Croatia pinned back and the ball is in the box! Moses spins, takes the shot on his right foot… but it’s blocked.

Nigeria make their final sub. Mikel comes off for Nwankwo.

9:44PM
86 mins – Croatia 2 Nigeria 0

Nigeria still don’t seem have any pressing urge to get back into this one. Croatia are keeping the ball really well to be fair to them, but still.

Pjaca comes on for Mandzukic.

9:53PM
FULL TIME

Job done for Croatia and without too much effort. Croatia controlled the game, were hardly challenged and come away with three vital points. Nigeria are in real trouble in this group.

Croatia moved top of World Cup Group D as a Luka Modric penalty and an Oghenekaro Etebo own-goal were enough to see off a surprisingly lacklustre Nigeria side in Kaliningrad.

A dismal first half saw the deadlock broken in fortunate fashion when Mario Mandzukic’s header looked to be heading well wide, only for a deflection off Etebo’s calf to divert it past helpless Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

That ensured Croatia took a 1-0 lead into half-time despite failing to have a shot on target, and they doubled their advantage from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining.

Brazilian referee Sandro Meira Ricci had little hesitation in pointing to the spot with William Troost-Ekong guilty of manhandling Mandzukic to the ground at a Croatia corner and Modric – who dictated play in the middle of the park throughout – stepped up to stroke it into the bottom left corner.

It was Croatia’s first shot on target and they managed only one other before the final whistle.

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