Written by: Andrew R
After a successful week in Europe, the HNL clubs took to the pitch for the third time this season in more high scoring thrillers. However, Hajduk and Osijek did not play due to Osijek’s European campaign match in Hungary on Thursday. They will make up their HNL Round 3 match later in the season.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Gorica (0-0)
Gorica continue to shock everyone in the HNL by being one of only three unbeaten teams left so far this season (Hajduk and Osijek are the other two). This is no small feat after holding off an aggressive Dinamo side Saturday. With Dinamo in the thick of their European qualifying campaign, something definitely seemed off with Dinamo’s play versus Gorica. Dinamo possessed 75% of the ball throughout this match piling on 17 shots. Ivan Banić was certainly the hero for Gorica on the night having five saves. While Dinamo still remain heavy favorites to win the league, a draw to Gorica only adds to the notion of their sluggish league start. With Dinamo having only one win from 3 games, will European play drag down Dinamo’s performance in the league? Dinamo have postponed their upcoming Zagreb Derby with Lokomotiva in preparations. While Dinamo contemplate what went wrong, Gorica are surely celebrating their undefeated status after surviving the reigning Croatian champs.
Slaven vs. Rudeš (3-2)
With both sides starting the season desperate for a win, an early matchup between bottom of the table competitors was going to be an all-out match for both sides. While Slaven played better overall but could not quite get Rudeš out of the picture early. Offensively, both teams were on their A-Game sharing 22 shots evenly between the two of them (11 for each of them). Ante Crnac continued to show his skill, grabbing the opening goal of the game and creating momentum for his Slaven side. While Rudeš has had a rough start to their opening campaign, one positive remains: their attacking play. They have been able to score 6 goals in 3 games which is not terrible for a side who resides at the bottom of the table. If manager Robert Prosinečki can figure out his defensive side of the ball, Rudeš could very well could be a side not doomed to repeat prior mistakes of Hrvatski Dragovoljac. Slaven get an important win in a possible relegation battle match that could be very useful throughout this arduous season.
Varaždin vs. Lokomotiva (3-3)
Last week, Varaždin bottled the lead over Slaven Belupo and yet again managed to do the same this weekend. Varaždin came out of the gates strong; tallying two goals before the half. Lokomotiva got a goal back and when everything seemed to be heading downhill, Varaždin got another goal back and made it 3-1 to regain control. Lokomotiva scored two goals in less than 10 minutes to find themselves level. Luka Stojković scored both goals to get the Lokosi back into the game, one being from the penalty spot. If Varaždin want to push higher up the table, Mario Kovačević’s boys will need to figure out how to keep a hold of their leads and turn draws into wins. Lokomotiva yet again find life later on in the match. Both clubs have started their campaigns quite sluggishly and sharing a point was not the aspirations of either teams. Lokosi fans can definitely be thankful for a draw after being down by two goals at two different moments in the match.
Rijeka vs. Istra (6-0)
Rijeka have been scoring tons of goals in their recent matches, and they certainly didn’t hold back against Istra Sunday night. Istra, who last season landed three points off a European qualifying berth, have been struggling to find their footing this season in the HNL. While many fans coming into this season were worried if Rijeka could offensively replace Frigan, that question has already been tossed out the window considering they have been relentless in scoring goals this season. Players like Niko Janković and Franjo Ivanović have stepped up huge for Rijeka on the attacking end. Bruno Goda also recorded his second goal this season despite being a defender. Istra struggle to get the ball up top as of late which is costing them heavily. Players like Erceg are great strikers however if the ball cannot get to him, Istra will struggle. None of Istra’s strikers had any shots in this match which is major a concern for the Pula based side. As Rijeka continue to get the ball rolling this campaign, Istra is left in the dust yet again contemplating their shaky start this season.