Another fascinating weekend of the 2021-22 Prva Liga season is in the books! The round featured a shocking defeat for Dinamo, clutch performances from Hajduk’s youngsters, and another demolishing display from Osijek. A solid 10 goals were scored in the five matches played this weekend, along with four shutouts thanks to some impressive defensive performances.
Slaven Belupo 1 – 2 HNK Gorica
Gorica hosted Slaven Belupo to kick off Round 15 of the 2021-22 Prva Liga season. Slaven opened the scoreline in the 43rd minute, thanks to a deflection goal scored by 20 year-old Marin Laušić. Laušić has been in great form, scoring in his last two matches. 16 year-old Lovro Zvonarek, on loan from Bayern Munich, assisted the goal in his first start for Slaven since coming back from an injury. Zvonarek, the youngest player to score in a Prva Liga match (16 years, 4 days), is projected to become a star for the Vatreni one day. Against the run of play, Gorica answered two minutes later in the 45th minute as Anthony Kalik neatly headed a set piece cross into the back of the net. Kalik struck again in the 62nd minute, heading another cross into the net to give Gorica a 2-1 lead. Although Slaven continued to create decent scoring chances in the second half, Gorica’s defensive line held strong to see out the victory. Gorica now sit only three points behind Hajduk, and six behind Dinamo.
CroatianSports’ Man of the Match: Anthony Kalik
NK Osijek 3 – 0 NK Istra 1961
Nenad Bjelica’s crew are now unbeaten in their last 10 matches after smoking Istra at home on Saturday. The Bijelo-Plavi began the destruction early on in the match, as Mihael Žaper finished a perfect set piece cross from Petar Bočkaj in the fifth minute of play. Mihret Topčagić added another goal onto the scoreboard for Osijek in the 59th minute, making Istra pay for a costly defensive error. Ivan Fiolić tallied a third for Osijek in the 75th minute, sealing the match at Gradski Vrt. Petar Bočkaj collected his second assist of the match, and finished with an impressive 9.0 match rating. Dion Drena Beljo, arguably the most in-form attacker in the Prva Liga, was limited to an awful 5.7 match rating by Osijek’s defense. Osijek are serious title contenders this season, and are very fun to watch.
CroatianSports’ Man of the Match: Petar Bočkaj
Hajduk Split 2 – 0 NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac
Hajduk earned themselves a much-needed three points against a struggling Dragovoljac side on Saturday night. 19 year-old striker Marin Ljubičić opened the scoreline for Hajduk in the 29th minute, heading in a terrific cross from 18 year-old Stipe Biuk. Scoring and assisting in his last two matches, Biuk is finally catching fire after a sloooooow start to the season. Hajduk’s lead doubled in the 67th minute, as Emir Sahiti’s shot took a massive deflection off Dragovoljac’s center-back Stipe Vulikić and landed in the back of the net. 17 year-old prodigy Marko Brkljača saw the pitch for Hajduk in the dying minutes of the match, one of Croatia’s top midfield talents. Hajduk finished the match with a 2-0 victory, an expected result against the Prva Liga’s last-placed team.
CroatianSports’ Man of the Match: Stipe Biuk
NK Lokomotiva Zagreb 1 – 0 GNK Dinamo Zagreb
WOW. In the most surprising result of the weekend, Lokomotiva Zagreb held reigning champions Dinamo Zagreb to zero goals and earned a crucial three points in their fight for a spot in European competition. Lokomotiva shocked Dinamo early on in the match, as Mateo Marić finished a terrific low-driven cross from Branimir Cipetić in the eighth minute of play. In an opportunity to equalize the match in the 38th minute, Bruno Petković’s penalty was saved by Lokomotiva’s Krševan Santini, only the 11th penalty save of his career. After the missed chance, it all went downhill for Dinamo. Following a cancelled penalty call for Dinamo in the 81st minute, Dino Perić thought he had scored the equalizer in the 93rd minute of play, only for it to be disallowed by VAR. Lokomotiva won the Zagreb Derby 1-0, a huge result for the Lokosi. Dinamo’s star players such as Mislav Oršić, Luka Ivanušec, and Bruno Petković must step their game up in order for the Modri to have a shot at the title this season.
CroatianSports’ Man of the Match: Krševan Santini
HNK Šibenik 0 – 1 HNK Rijeka
Rijeka handled Šibenik in boring fashion in the final match of the weekend. It took the visitors 45 minutes to open the scoreline, as Hrvoje Smolčić wonderfully headed the ball into the back of the net on the stroke of halftime. Rijeka failed to score another goal in the match despite attempting 15 shots. Šibenik’s offense was unable to finish any of their 13 shots, five of which landed on target. After starting the season in convincing fashion, Šibenik’s stars Antonio Marin and Marin Jakoliš have been in poor form in their last few matches.
CroatianSports’ Man of the Match: Hrvoje Smolčić