Dinamo Zagreb inched out NK Zadar at Stadion Stanovi in Zadar this weekend with a score of 3-1.
The field conditions lived up to Stanovi’s reputation of being abysmal, and provided an added challenge to Dinamo’s cause, but possibly aided Zadar in the match.
The home team kept the Croatian champions close in the match until late in the game in the 86th minute.
Zadar, led by the living legend, Ciro Blažević, opened the scoring in the match in the 22nd minute with a goal from Ivan Pesić.
But a poor performance by goalkeeper, Mladen Matković tarnished Zadar’s performance on the day.
Dinamo tied the match just before halftime with a goal from Marko Pjaca. Pjaca took a low shot from just inside the penalty area, but Matković was slow to respond and awkwardly dove to his left a little too late.
Dinamo was given the opportunity to take the lead in the 75th minute, but Machado was unable to convert the penalty kick awarded to him.
Machado stepped up for the shot and aimed for the lower left corner, but mis-hit the ball and sent it slowly rolling well past the goal.
To make matters worse, Zadar was forced to play with 10 men due to the injury of Solomon Theophilius. Zadar had already used all three of their substitutions and were unable to replace the injured player.
Dinamo took advantage of their 10-men opponent and substitute, Angelo Henriquez, scored the game winning goal in the 86th minute.
Henriquez met a lofting cross with his foot and struck the ball into the ground to bounce it into the net. Goalkeeper Mlatković was there to make the save, but instead, pushed the ball into the net with his hands.
Franko Andrejasović scored an insurance goal in the 93rd minute to finish the game, and Dinamo took all three points in their final match before facing Red Bull Salzberg on Thursday in their third group stage match in the Europa League.
Hajduk Split also played to a close victory against a lesser opponent over the weekend. Hajduk’s 1-0 win over Slaven in Koprivnica gave the Pharmacists their league-leading seventh loss this season and kept them winless in three straight games.
Tino-Sven Sušić was the goal scorer for Hajduk in the match and that was all that was necessary for their offense to do in order to secure three points.
Sušić’s goal came in the 32nd minute that began with a cross from Jean Evard Kouassi.
Lovre Kalinić came up big in Hajduk’s win and helped assure their fifth consecutive match undefeated.
Several key saves from the young goalkeeper assured would hold the lead. His biggest save of the game came from Filip Ozobić during the start of the second half.
But ultimately, Slaven’s chances were far and few in between, and Hajduk was the dominant side and deserved victory.
Rijeka might have slipped in the beginning of the match, but the team showed its quality and flexed its muscles against their nearest rivals, NK Istra 1961.
Istra went a head in the 45th minute with a goal from Dario Tomić, who was left unmarked on the back post and dribbled the ball into the goal past Ivan Vargić, who had no help in stopping the surging player.
But Rijeka answered back immediately after the start of the second half with a goal from Mateo Jajalo in the 53d minute.
Jajalo’s goal sparked Rijeka’s fire and the flood gates with two more goals coming from Andrej Kramarić, who scored his 14th goal of the season and one form Ermin Zec, who made his first appearance for Rijeka.
Rijeka are keeping pace with Dinamo at the top of the table, resting only four points behind the Croatian champions.
This match was also Rijeka’s final test before they welcome Denmark’s Feyenoor to Kantrida for their third group stage match of the Europa League.
The club also just broke ground this week on their brand new training facility. The training facility will also include a small 4,000 seat stadium that will act as the temporary home of HNK Rijeka during the construction of a new Kantrida Stadium.
The battle of Kranjčevićeva featured two teams that call the stadium home, NK Zagreb, who have been playing there since 1945, and NK Lokomotiva, who have only recently been calling the stadium home.
NK Zagreb has surely grown tired of sharing their grounds with various Zagreb teams that have joined the Prva Liga, such as Hrvatski Dragovoljac last season and NK Lučko in 2011/12, and wanted to show Lokomotiva who’s home it really was.
But the Lokosi proved to be the stronger side that resides on the street of the Poets, and won the battle with a score of 3-0.
Marin Marić opened the scoring in the 11th minute, and it was closely followed by Damir Sovšić’s 18th minute penalty goal.
Up by two goals, Marić scored one more in the 38th minute, which would end the scoring for the match, and essentially bring three points to the Lokosi.
RNK Split and NK Osijek started off the match week on Friday with a 3-0 win for the Reds.
Albanian Solkol Cikalleshi started the scoring off with a penalty kick in the 33rd minute and Goran Roce scored only seconds after that in the 34th minute.
Roce scored once again just before halftime in the 44th minute to solidify the Red’s 3-0 win in Split.