After going scoreless in his past two games for Everton, Nikica Jelavić ended the season on a high note, scoring in the 27th minute against a tough Newcastle United team in a 3-1 win. Jela made the run down field and had the ball put over the top to him. He appeared to handle the ball with his arm before he fired strong towards net. Newcastle keeper Tim Krul made the initial save but the ball bounced back in Jelavić’s direction and in an unorthodox fashion, he right-footed into an open net. He was subbed off in the 84th minute.
Jelavić has scored 11 goals for Everton in only 16 appearances since coming over from Rangers during the 2012 winter transfer window. He won the 2012 Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award for April and is hitting on all cylinders going into Euro 2012.
Jelavić goal vs. Newcastle on final day…was it a handball?
Luka Modrić and Tottenham did what they had to do this season: finish in the top-four. Spurs’ 2-0 win over Fulham on Sunday confirmed the finish but they will have to wait until May 19th to see if they will play Champions League football in September. Since only a maximum of four teams can qualify for Champions League from one country, should Chelsea defeat Bayern Munich in the Final on Saturday, they will receive an automatic berth into next season’s tournament as defending champions alongside the top three finishers from England. This would bump Tottenham to Europa League.
With the offers he received last transfer window, Modrić will surely leave White Hart Lane in the summer if Tottenham do not secure Champions League football. But what if they do? The Croatian midfielder will once again become part of the transfer circus after Euro 2012 with European super clubs Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City calling his name.
In the last match of the 2011-12 season, Modrić once again played the full 90 minutes for Spurs as he pulled the strings in the midfield. He only managed two shots, none on goal, and was given a ‘7’ grade from SkySports.com. Is this the last we see from Luka Modrić in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt?
Niko Kranjčar has been shut down for the club season due to a knee injury but should be ready for Slaven Bilić and Croatia for Euro 2012 duty.
Photo: Empics Sports
Ivan Klasnić and the Bolton Wanderers needed a win vs. Stoke City on Sunday and help from Manchester City to avoid relegation and stay in the English first flight next season. The help from City came in one of the most dramatic and epic season finales in all of sports history. Manchester City scored not one, but two extra time goals Sunday afternoon to defeat relegation candidates QPR 3-2 and claim the English Premier League crown over city rivals Manchester United.
With the QPR loss, all Bolton needed to do was defeat Stoke City to remain a Premier League club. Klasnić got the start in this must win match and made the best of what was possibly his last action in England. Killer rocketed a shot towards goal in the first half but Stoke keeper Sorensen made a fantastic save. Later, Klasnić set up the play which lead to Bolton’s first goal. He played strong in his 69 minutes on the pitch and Bilić made a big, big mistake by not taking Klasnić to Euro 2012.
Two late first half goals by Mark and Kevin Davies gave Bolton the lead going into the last half of the season, but a 77′ penalty for Stoke would deny Bolton in the 2-2 draw. Bolton will now be relegated to the second division next season, but what will happen to 32 year-old Ivan Klasnić? Killer was Bolton’s leading scorer this season with eight goals and played the majority of 2012 coming off the bench.
Surely he will not play for a second division English club next season. Where should Klasnić queue his swan song?
Ivan Perišić covered himself with the Croatian flag for the second time this season after Borussia Dortmund captured the German Cup on Saturday, defeating Bayern Munich 5-2 in the DFB Pokal Final. Perišic came off the bench late to only play the last six minutes of the match but has been a fantastic substitute for the Bundesliga champions this campaign. With much of Dortmund’s talent reported to be bought in the offseason, Perišić may receive a starting role next season.
Although Borussia Dortmund had Bayern’s number this season, winning the German double, Bayern Munich will have an opportunity to have the last laugh with a win over Chelsea on May 19th to capture the Champions League crown. Ivica Olić and Danijel Pranjić remained on the bench in the Cup final on Saturday and look to play the same role against Chelsea. Olić is heading to Wolfsburg in the summer while Pranjić has been rumored with a move to China.
Photo: Youtube Screengrab
After suffering a right achilles injury in the Coupe de France Final, Dejan Lovren wrote on his official Facebook page that his foot is still a bit sore but it feels much better and he is expecting to return within the next 15 days. The timeframe insists that Lovren will be ready to join Croatia for their two friendlies against Estonia and Norway before facing Ireland on June 10th in their Euro 2012 opener.
Ivan Rakitić and Sevilla’s final match of the year was truly a microcosm of their entire season. Despite being the better side on the road against Espanyol, they had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their La Liga finale. Ivan played the entire match and took two shots, assisting on Sevilla’s lone goal just before halftime with a nice lob over the top to release Perotti. Sevilla finish the season in a disappointing eighth place and will not play in Europe next season. Rakitić will be extremely disappointed with his season as he scored five goals in his first 13 appearances for Sevilla last season but was unable to find the back of the net this year in 18 starts. However, he managed to produce five assists this campaign, mostly from corners.
Rakitić plays a nice lob to set up Perotti
Real Zaragoza won a crazy match over Getafe on Sunday to secure their spot in La Liga next season. It was only two months ago that Zaragoza were in the basement of Spain with relegation looking more likely than not. Their season finale featured four red cards, with three being for Getafe. Up two men with half an hour to go, Zaragoza took advantage and were comfortably on their way to winning, although their task got slightly harder thanks to Tomislav Dujmović’s red card in the 83rd minute. Tomo was subbed on in the 64th minute and his only significant contribution to the game was his sending off for a reckless tackle on Abdel Barrada. With Zaragoza up for next season, will Dujmović get signed by Zaragoza or will La Liga remain a league yet to be cracked by Croats? He was loaned out by Dynamo Moscow in the winter transfer window.
Pletikosa guesses right but can’t grab PK (Remix Edition?)
Rostov lost 2-1 to Tom Tomsk Sunday on a stoppage time penalty, ending a successful season for all involved with the club. Stipe Pletikosa was not at fault for either of the two goals conceded and nearly saved Tomsk’s penalty goal. Rostov needed a win in this match to avoid the relgation playoff. They will play a home-away series against Shinnik, from the Russian second division for a spot in the 2012-13 Russian Premier League. Rostov is home for the first leg which will be played on May 18th with the return leg on May 22nd, three days before Croatia plays Estonia in a friendly.
A special thanks goes out to Zach Gilfix for taking the time to contribute to CroatianSports.com by covering Spain and Russia the entire season. Croatians Around Europe will return in August.