Hajduk Split struck fear in the hearts of Dinamo Zagreb on Sunday by nearly giving them their first loss of the season at Poljud in front of 20,000 fans, but Dinamo put a historical comeback on display to take the derby match 3-2.
Hajduk looked to redeem themselves after falling out of the Europa League last week. The club used the loss as motivation to show that they are still the club that fans expect them to be.
Dinamo on the other hand, were planning on using their momentum of entering the group stage of the Europa League to beat Hajduk in what was easily the biggest match of the season so far.
Hajduk came out swinging in the first minute of the match. They used a controlling method that kept Dinamo in their heels for the majority of the first 45 minutes.
Tino-Sven Šučić opened the scoring early in the eighth minute with a stunning goal from the edge of the penalty area. That was the first goal for the Belgium-born Bosnian and gave his team the momentum to keep up the pressure on Dinamo.
Antonio Milić doubled the score for the Bili shortly after the start of the second half with a goal off a corner kick that Dinamo defenders could not clear.
Hajduk’s two-goal lead in the 60th minute seemed to put things out of reach for Dinamo, but Dinamo upped the pressure and fought back to equal the score thanks to the scoring tandem of Soudani and Duje Čop.
Soudani gave Čop his first goal in the 71st minute with a lofting cross that Čop met with the outside of his foot. The nifty and skilled touch slowly went passed a diving Lovre Kalinić, who instinctively covered his near post, but Čop placed his touch on the far post for Dinamo’s first goal.
The goal gave him the confidence to find another because he did it again in the 91st minute, again from a pass from Soudani.
Soudani sent in a low had cross that Čop met with his first touch that put it into the net to tie the match.
You could nearly hear the momentum shift as the spirits of Hajduk fans and players were shattered, and Dinamo was there to pick up the pieces.
It looked as if both teams would come out with a point in a 2-2 draw, but a new addition to the Modri changed that.
Manchester United loanee, Angelo Henriquez came off the bench in the 60th minute and became a Zagrebački hero, scoring his first goal in a Dinamo jersey on his HNL debut.
The 20-year-old Chilean scored the game-winner in the 94th minute with a header that he forcefully headed unto the ground and bounced over a desperate Kalinić and into the net for the win.
The thrilling comeback marked another historical milestone for Dinamo: They are the first club in the 35-year history of Poljud to beat Hajduk three times in a row at Poljud.
In the last nine months, Dinamo and Hajduk have played each other six times with Dinamo wining five times, and the two teams drawing once.
Hajduk had a big opportunity to come within three points of their rivals on the table, but Dinamo are already breaking away from them, sitting at the top of the table, nine points ahead of Hajduk.
HNK Rijeka put on a goal-scoring clinic on Sunday when NK Zadar visited Kantrida, winning 6-1.
Six goals were scored by four different Rijeka players. Most notable, Moises scored a hattrick and Andrej Kramarić scored his 10th goal of the season after playing only seven matches.
Kramarić wasted no time in scoring, putting in the first goal in the 12th minute. But Zadar answered back instantly with a 16th minute goal from Zelimir Terkeš.
The 33-year old Terkeš is coming back from a short spell in Indonesia’s first division club, Persija Jakarta.
The draw was broken in the 20th minute by former Dinamo Zagreb player, Ivan Tomečak. Rijkea is continuing the trend of taking former Dinamo players and turning them into successful Rijeka players. Earlier this week, Dinamo defender, Ruben Lima signed for the club, adding solid depth to their back line.
“I will do my best to do as the coach says and to satisfy the criteria of the profession. I remember the atmosphere at Kantrida, the way the city and the fans experience club, and I am happy that I will become a part of it,” Lima said at his first press conference with Rijeka. “I am familiar with the quality of the team and I think we can rightly think to keep pace with Dinamo and the quality playing in the Europa League.”
Moises scored his first goal of the night in the 29th minute, and again in the 38th minute. Goran Cvijanović scored in the 85th minute, but Mioses capped off his three-goal night in the 88th minute to make the final score 6-1.
There is a silver lining for NK Zadar in their embarrassing loss: They were rewarded the coaching talents of one of the greatest football managers out there; the John Madden of Croatia, Miroslav “Ćiro” Blažević.
The 70-year-old coach has taken over NK Zadar after the resignation of now former coach, Ferdo Milin.
NK Zagreb welcomed RNK Split to Zagreb in the Mali Vječni Derbi on Sunday, and honored the victory of their their cross-town neighbors by beating the Split club 2-1
Both Zagreb goals were scored by Gabrijel Boban, who is a distant cousin of the great Zvonimir Boban.
Split avoided the shutout with a goal in the 63rd minute, but it was not enough to get a point, and fell in Zagreb.
NK Lokomitiva seem to be back on track with another victory, this time over struggling Slaven Belupo.
The Lokosi got their second consecutive win after suffering four straight defeats. The club also climbed themselves out of a hole in the league table, now sitting in fourth place, one point behind Hajduk.
Osijek kept Istra 1961 scoreless in Pula, while Istra kept them scoreless as well. Both clubs escaped with a point, and sit mid-table, both with eight points.
The league will take a break next week as international friendlies take place. The league will resume with the first match on Friday, Sept. 12 when RNK Split host NK Lokomotiva at 12pm EST.