Dinamo Zagreb broke their short losing streak on Sunday with a late game-winning goal from Junior Fernandes.
Fernandes struck in the 82nd minute to give Dinamo the 1-0 lead that took them their first victory in three weeks.
The 20-year-old Ivica Ivušić made his HNL debut with Istra in the match, getting the start in goal over veteran Vanja Ivešić. Ivusic faced nine shots and saved eight on them.
Ivušić, who stands 6-foot-five-inches, was not at fault for the lone goal of the match.
Fernandes reached the ball on a header after out-jumping his opponents. The ball came from a rebound after Ivušić made a quick reaction save, but was unable to get in the way of Fernandes’ attempt.
Hajduk Spit missed a prime opportunity to remain on top of Dinamo on the table, but succumbed to the likes of NK Osijek who came out victorious in a 1-0 shutout.
Tomislav Šarić took advantage of Hajduk’s poor play in the first half of the match and finished a play that tore the Hajduk defense apart.
The lone goal in the Garden City brought Osijek to its third win of the season.
Lovre Kalinić, who was named as the goalkeeper in the Team of the Week, did his part in the match and saved a penalty in the first half. Kalinić can only blame his defense for the one goal allowed.
HNK Rijeka is the only remaining undefeated team in the league and have extended their winning streak to five matches with their recent 2-1 over RNK Split on Sunday.
Rijeka also ended Split’s four-match unbeaten run and continue to top the table, sitting four points above Dinamo, five above Hajduk, and nine above Split.
Miral Samardžić kicked off the scoring in the third minute, putting Rijeka in the lead early but it was Roman Bezjak who stole the show with his impressive volley that found that back of the net in the 38th minute.
Bezjak received a cross from the right side and lined up a perfectly fierce volley from about 10 yards from goal to make the score 2-0.
Split was close to mounting the comeback, but fell one goal short even though Antonio Mršić found the back of the net in the 49th minute.
The time has finally come for NK Zagreb as the struggling team found their first win after 16 weeks play.
The Poets won with a score of 2-0 over the visiting NK Slaven Belupo, who have been on a hot streak this fall.
The Pharmacists entered the match with confidence, but made several sloppy and critical errors that greatly cost them.
NK Zagreb were the beneficiaries of two penalty kicks, which were both converted; one by Lovro Medić in the 44th minute, and one by Gabrijel Boban in the 90th minute.
Zagreb have secured their eighth point of the season, but remain in last place while Slaven rest four points clear of any relegation danger above NK Osijek.
The Lokosi were the only away team to come out victorious this weekend, but it was not easy facing the tough Inter Zaprešić in their own stadium.
Nearly 650 of the Zaprečić faithful witnessed the 2-1 victory of the Lokosi after Luka Capan and Franko Andrijašević scored to give their team a 2-0 lead.
The ever-present and always-scoring Ilja Nestorovski added to his season total and scored his league-leading 11th goal in the 75th minute.
The match played out like a chess match with equal possession of the ball, but the Lokosi edged out their neighbors to the north and earned a tough three points.
Lokomotiva sit in fifth place, one point above Inter.
BONUS 2.HNL COVERAGE
It was another heart-breaking week for NK Zadar as they fell 1-0 to last-placed NK Imotski on Sunday.
Zadar had once again looked to be content with a 0-0 draw but were once again shut out in a late-game goal.
Imotski’s Mate Paponja scored in the 85th minute to give his team their fourth win of the season.
Imotski remains in last place, but is only one point behind NK Zadar.
Fellow former-HNL’ers HNK Šibenik have surged to the top of the table hold a 10-point lead over second place HNK Cibalia. Barring and difficulty obtaining a first-class license, it may be safe to say that Šibenik will be rejoining the big leagues after a four-year absence.
If Zadar falls into the third division next season, I will be able to play for them.