Nigeria seat bottom place to n Group D at the ongoing Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup following a 2-0 loss to Croatia in Kaliningrad on Saturday.
An own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo and a spot kick from Luka Modric ended the three-time African Champions hope of taking a point from the tie.
Against all expectations, Brighton of England new signing, Leon Balogun, made the starting line up alongside William Troost-Ekong, Bryan Idowu and Abdullahi Shehu in the Super Eagles defence, while Gernot Rohr kept fate with young goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, in goal for Nigeria.
Captain John Obi Mikel led the midfield with Wilfried Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Alex Iwobi, just as Odion Ighalo and Victor Moses spearheaded the attack.
However, conscious of Argentina and Iceland venue one-all draw earlier in the day, the Gernot Rohr side showed brilliance and tried to neutralise the Croats defence early in the first half.
Against run of play, the first real chance of the fell at Croatia but the effort rose over the bar.
Croatia finally got the breakthrough in the 33rd minute of the tie as Etebo converted a header by Mario Manzukic to score an own goal.
Nigeria came close to drawing level but Iwobi’s strike was blocked by the Croats defenders as they led by a lone goal at half time.
On resumption for the second half, Nigeria began on the front foot with Moses and Etebo combining to unlock the resistance of the Croats but the efforts were futile.
Again, the Croats were close to sealing victory but Ivan Perisic’s effort rose above the cross bar.
Nigeria got punished after pulling down Manzukic in the vital area.
Modric stepped up to convert the kick in the 70th minute.
It remained a ding dong affair until the final while by the Brazilian referee, Sandro Ricci.