The Nigerian Golden Eaglets succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Croatia, who came from behind to defeat the Group A winners and advance to the knockout stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.
Croatia started the match with great dexterity, knowing fully well that a win will see them through to the knock-out stage. Croatia’s captain Nikola Moro had a shot from around the penalty area deflect strongly off Nigeria’s brave defenders.
Four minutes later, the Eaglets had their first chance of the match but Victor Osimhen’s effort was futile, as the base of the post prevented it from going in.
However, Osimhen dis not have to wait long to see his fortunes change when, after a swift counter attack, which he calmly scored.
Croatia continued to have the majority of possession for the remainder of the half.
Croatia returned from the break anxious to finally convert a chance and they did so just five minutes into the second half. Josip Brekalo scored the equaliser after Moro wriggled his way along the Nigerian defence goal-line and found his team-mate on the back post.
Dario Basic’s Croatia then used their momentum to take the lead four minutes later when they capitalised on an error from the Nigeria’s backline. Karlo Majic cooly curled in a right-footed shot to score his second of the tournament and, more importantly, give his team the lead.
There were several chances for both sides towards the end of the match, as the Eaglets threatened to score an equaliser in the final minutes. The stand-out moment was Croatia defender Branimir Kalaica’s last-ditch block on Samuel Chukwueze to keep his side 2-1 ahead.
Croatia held on to their lead in the end to become the first Croatian team ever to reach the Round of 16 in the tournament and will now face the runners-up in Group C on Thursday 29 October, while Group A winners Nigeria will wait to see which third-placed team from Groups C, D or E they will come up against in the Round of 16 on Wednesday 28 October.