Nightmare for Africa in Russia as toothless Eagles surrender cheaply to Croatia
Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal set the stage for a disastrous opening game for the Eagles(Reuters)
London, June 16, 2018 (AltAfrika)-Oghenekaro Etebo’s own goal and a Luka Modric penalty gave Croatia a winning World Cup start as Super Eagles of Nigeria surrender cheaply in a poor Group D match in Kaliningrad.
Highly rated Egypt and Morocco also lost their opening matches in what some analysts described as worst possible start for the continent in world cup competition so far
Tunisia and a determined Senegalese team now carry the hope of the continent
Etebo, who joined Stoke City from Portuguese club Feirense for £6.35m on Monday, turned Modric’s first-half corner into his own net after Ante Rebic and Mario Mandzukic had both got touches.
Modric then converted a 71st-minute penalty – Croatia’s first shot on target – after William Troost-Ekong had terribly manhandled Mandzukic at a corner.
Nigeria offered little attacking threat, although Dejan Lovren blocked Alex Iwobi’s shot just before half-time, and Odion Ighalo glanced a Brian Idowu cross straight at goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.
Victory takes Croatia top of their group, after Iceland held Argentina 1-1earlier on Saturday.
Iran won their first match at a World Cup finals since 1998 as Morocco substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal in injury time.
Bouhaddouz put the ball into his own net with a diving header at the near post in the 95th minute as Morocco defended a left-wing free-kick.
The result was harsh on the African side, who had wasted numerous chances in the first half and were denied late on when Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand produced a fine save from Hakim Ziyech.
Similarly, Uruguay snatched a late winner as they began their World Cup campaign with a dramatic victory over Egypt, who left Mohamed Salah on the bench.
Jose Gimenez headed powerfully into the net in the 90th minute as he met Carlos Sanchez’s free-kick to give the South Americans a winning start in Russia.
Uruguay had been the better side as Luis Suarez had missed four chances and Edinson Cavani had hit the inside of a post with a 25-yard free-kick.
Salah, who scored 44 times for Liverpool this season, remained an unused substitute as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury sustained in last month’s Champions League final.
Without Salah, Egypt lacked a cutting edge and had looked on course to earn a point in their first match at a World Cup finals since 1990 before Gimenez’s late goal.