Dinamo Zagreb pulled off a dramatic win against Hajduk Split on Saturday with a close score of 2-1.
The last time these two teams met at Maksimir, Dinamo struck five goals in a landslide victory, but Hajduk has been a difficult opponent in the HNL this season and kept the match close.
The contest was overwhelmed by a foggy evening in Zagreb that made watching the
game visibly difficult, but the show went on as planned and entertained over 10,000 fans that were in attendance.
Both teams respected each other’s skill in the first half and played cautiously in the beginning, but Dinamo struck gold early on when Junior Fernandes met Paulo Machado’s corner kick with his head for the match’s first goal in the sixth minute.
Mijo Caktaš struck back for the Bili in the 17th minute with an impressive goal from distance.
Caktaš received a clever back heel pass from Tino-Sven Šušić at the top of the box and put a low hard shot past the diving Eduardo to tie the match.
The remainder of the half consisted of back and forth midfield play that was mostly possessed by Dinamo, who ended the match with nearly 60 percent of the possession.
The second started much the same as the first half ended and looked to end in a very equal 1-1 draw, but stoppage time gave Dinamo just the advantage they were looking for in the match.
Hajduk’s Jefferson was sent off with his second yellow card of the evening, leaving Hajduk a man short with time left in stoppage time. Without the six-foot-four Brazilian defender, Hajduk left space for Soudani to take over.
The game-winning goal came in the 95th minute from El Arbi Hillel Soudani.
Junior Fernandes sent in a ball that he lofted over his head. Soudani met the ball on the half volley from close range to win the match for the Modri in the dying seconds of the game.
With the win, Dinamo were able to retake first place, leading Rijeka only on goal differential.
HNK Rijeka dropped crucial points to NK Inter Zaprešić for the third straight time.
Inter has proven to be Rijeka’s kryptonite; keeping them scoreless in the past three matches they have played each other.
Since Inter has rejoined the Prva Liga, they have tied Rijeka 0-0 in all three meetings.
With the scoreless draw and the inability to capitalize on an important three points, Rijeka once again find themselves looking up at Dinamo on the league table.
Chances for both sides were few and far between in the first half, leaving Rijeka with only one real chance on goal by Roman Bezjak, who struck the side of the net with his shot.
The final 30 minutes of the game saw a slightly more aggressive Rijeka, but it was too little too late, and the modest match played by both teams ended in a deservedly scoreless draw.
In the wake of the lackluster performance, the winter transfer window talk is heating up for Rijeka.
A familiar name is circulating around the front offices of Rijeka, and that name is Niko Kranjčar.
Kranjčar, who has played no more than 10 minutes with Kiev this season, is looking for a “different outcome” to the rest of his season.
According to an interview with Rijeka’s president, Damir Misković, it is not out of the realm of possibilities.
The departure of coach Igor Pamić has left Istra in dismay.
Istra has only one victory since his absence and has been plummeting down the rankings to their current position of eighth place.
In the match against Slaven Belupo, the Istrian offense did very little to threaten Slaven.
Once again, the young goalkeeper for the Istrani performed impressively, but the Pharmacists were still able to get the best of him twice; once from a goal scored by Muzafer Ejupi in the third minute, and again by Ejupi in the 90th minute.
The two goals gave Slaven the 2-0 and three points that advanced them a head of Istra to seventh place.
The Mali Derbi took place along side the Dinamo-Hajduk match this weekend and ended in a 1-1 draw in Split.
Eros Grazda scored his fourth goal in the past three games to start the match off in the first 37 seconds of play.
The 20-year-old Slovenian-born Albanian has made one appearance for the Albanian U21 team, but with his recent form, expect him to make more international appearances.
Antonio Mršić tied the match in the 65th minute with a penalty, but things got a little scary for Split once Miloš Vidović was sent off and left them a man short.
In the end, Split was able to handle the Lokosi despite playing with only 10 men. The two teams split the points Split in fourth place and Lokomotiva in fifth.
Osijek performed the minimum required to win, defeating hopeless NK Zagreb 1-0 at Kranjčevićeva.
Tomislav Sarić scored the loan goal for Osijek in the 22nd minute.
Zagreb is in last place, 10 points behind Osijek, who are currently in ninth place. There are reportedly little funds for The Poets to bring in any reinforcements over the winter break and seemed destined to be Druga Liga contenders next season.
BONUS 2.HNL COVERAGE
NK Zadar is struggling to find any type of decent for this season. They suffered their fifth consecutive league loss on Sunday at the hands of NK Rudes with a score of 3-0. Zadar is winless in its past seven matches and hope to find victory next week against Radnik Sesvete.