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.
Midfielder Etebo, who joined Stoke City for €7.2million on Monday, turned a Modric corner into his own net after Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic both flicked the delivery on.
Nigeria’s previous goal conceded at the World Cup in 2014 was also an own goal, defender Joseph Yobo the unfortunate player to put through his own net in a last-16 defeat to France.
And when William Troost-Ekong needlessly dragged Mandzukic down in the box, captain Modric coolly converted the 71st-minute penalty to give Croatia a winning start on their fifth appearance at the finals.
Croatia had the better of a close contest light on chances in Kaliningrad, with Mandzukic’s aerial power causing plenty of problems for Nigeria, who have the youngest squad at the World Cup.
Gernot Rohr’s men were unable to create a clear opportunity of their own and sit bottom of Group D following the first round of fixtures, Argentina and Iceland having drawn in Moscow earlier on Friday after Lionel Messi missed a penalty.