Luka Modric penalty and an own goal from Oghenekaro Etebo gave former semi-finalists Croatia an easy 2-0 win over Nigeria in their World Cup Group D opener on Saturday.
Just after the half-hour mark, Mandzukic, industrious in his hold-up play, chested a Andrej Kramaric cross back to Ante Rebic, whose fizzing shot was blocked. The resulting corner saw Rebic return the favour with a near-post flick on met by a diving Mandzukic.
Etebo was wrong-footed and bundled into his own net.
Nigeria responded well, with Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi’s shot from a cleared free kick blocked on 45 minutes and his Premier League colleague Victor Moses shooting wide from 30 yards on the stroke of half time.
The Super Eagles had the best of the start of the second period, forcing Croatia to bat away three corners in succession, before Moses again snatched a shot wide of Danjiel Subasic’s left upright.
But just as Nigeria showed some signs of life, William Ekong held down Mandzukic from a cross in the area and referee Sandro did not hesitate to point to the spot.
Modric’s gilded right foot guided it to Uzoho’s right side.
The Real Madrid maestro was not at his best for much of the night, but in truth he did not need to be as Nigeria looked ponderous on the ball and crucially short of big-game experience.
Despite fears pre-match, there was no reports of any racist chanting from among the near-capacity crowd.