HNK RIJEKA 2 – 2 GNK DINAMO ZAGREB
Dinamo traveled to Rijeka for some exciting mid-week HNL action for a makeup match that was rained out several weeks ago.
The two clubs were eager to show who had the better team, and early on, both tried to assert dominance on Rijeka’s home field of Kantrida.
Trouble struck Dinamo early in the match with the injury of defender Lee Addy. Addy was removed from the match in the sixth minute and replaced with Josip Simunović.
Dinamo then struggled to show dominance in the first half of the match as Rijeka controlled the pace and the ball in the first 45 minutes, despite being without the league’s most prolific goal scorer, Leon Benko.
Benko made a surprising move yesterday and left the club on a transfer to join Chinese Super League club, Dalian Aerbin. The league’s top scorer would surly be missed in such a high-profile match, but with the likes Andrej Kramarić and Anas Sharbini they would certainly fill the void left by Benko, who has scored 15 goals this season before his departure.
“I think this is an opportunity for our other players to shine because I believe that we have a very good offensive staff. There are now players like Krstanović, Kramarić, Ayaji, Sharbini, and I believe we have a good team and a good coach who will be able to incorporate the team without Benko,” said Srečko Juričić, sports director of Rijeka.
Sharbini played an outstanding match, scoring Rijeka’s opening goal and putting them in the lead into the second half.
Sharbini scored his goal in the 13th minute of the game after taking on a slew of Dinamo defenders, one of which he put on the ground with his quick footwork before taking a shot that was defected into the net past Antonijo Ježina.
Rijeka doubled their lead in the 55th minute when Andrej Kramarić struck from the penalty spot after Arijan Ademi made a reckless challenge in the box.
With Dinamo down 2-0, someone needed to up their playing and take responsibility for Dinamo’s lackluster offense.
The young Alen Halilović was there to make the difference for the Modri today.
Halilović made several spectacular runs with an without the ball, but it seemed at first that his maturity level still lacked, and needed discipline and better team work to achieve success.
But the 17-year-old’s skills shined though and Halilović received an aerial back heel pass from Duje Čop just on top of the penalty area where he struck it home past Ivan Vargič.
Only two minutes later, Halilović collected a through ball from Junior Fernandes and sent another left-footed strike past Vargić for the game-tying goal. The goals marked Halilović’s first and second league-goals of the season, and third goal in all competitions this year.
The match became stagnant in the later stages with both teams seeming to be satiate with sharing the points, but Fernandes did have one last attempt on goal, but Vargić was there to get the slightest of touches to ensure Rijeka secured a point.
Dinamo remain on top of the league table with Hajduk Split trailing by six points, and Rijeka behind by nine.