Written By Andrew R.
Hajduk vs PAOK (0:0)
Hajduk and PAOK took to the pitch Thursday night at Poljud in the 1st leg of their Conference League 3rd qualifying round affair. With tensions high both on and off the field with Croatians and Greeks this week, Hajduk looked like they were ready to put on a show in front front of their fans in Split. While the work and performance on the pitch was good from Hajduk, they just could not find the back of the net. Despite dominating in nearly all stats, including 15 shots from Hajduk compared to six for PAOK, a goal was not scored. Hajduk also rung two shots off the post. While Hajduk are not out of this leg yet, their inability to find that goal at home makes next week’s task all the more difficult. With tough draws for Osijek and Rijeka, many feel the pressure is on Hajduk’s shoulders to be that second team to qualify for Europe alongside Dinamo. If Hajduk can keep the same performance they showed in Split, they are more than capable of making it out of the next round.
Rijeka vs B36 Torshavn (3:1)
Rijeka exit the week with a two-goal cushion after clashing with B36 Torshavn on the road in the Faroe Islands. After conceding first, Rijeka looked like they were sliding down a similar slope to that of Osijek. However, a penalty towards the end of the 1st half by Janković opened the scoring for Rijeka, and allowed them to build quickly. Bruno Goda also added his fourth goal this campaign on the night despite being a defender. All in all, despite the early hiccups from the Hannes Agnarsson goal, Rijeka were the best of three Croatian clubs on the night and showed their class on the road. If Rijeka can see this tie out and advance, they will be met with Lille from France, which could be the most daunting task for the club yet. Hopefully Rijeka will look to replicate their European home form again against Torshavn similar to the performance against Dukagjini in the round prior.
Osijek vs Adana Demirspor (1:5)
Osijek were by far the worst of the three Croatian clubs Thursday. From the opening whistle, the Bijelo-Plavi were behind the 8-ball. Letting a goal in just the third minute of play and conceding a second within 16 minutes; it completely turned Osijek off. Adana were ruthless offensively and the Osijek defense were certainly not up to the task, letting five goals in on the night. One of the few bright spots was a Gržan goal that gave Osijek a glimmer of hope, until Erdogan drilled home the fifth and final goal. If Osijek has any hope of seeing the beacon of European play, they will need a miracle and then some versus Adana. If Osijek can keep their home form, they could possibly make the second leg difficult for Adana. Tough task but let’s see what if Osijek can open the floodgates early next week at Opus.