Oh boy. So much to unpack here. How is Dinamo Zagreb not in the final round of Champions League qualifying? How? Instead, they will now be facing off against Czech champions Sparta Prague for a spot in the Europa League group stage.
Wrap your head around the following stat. AEK Athens defeated Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 across two legs this week. Three of AEK’s goals came in the 90th minute or later. The 1st leg in Zagreb was all Dinamo in the 1st half. Dinamo were up 1-0 going into halftime but conceded twice to gift AEK a victory at Maksimir; with the winner coming in the 90th minute.
It was more of the same Saturday night in Greece during the 2nd leg. Dinamo got out in front just moments before halftime with Josip Šutalo cleaning up the trash in front of the net to level the tie at 2-2. Dinamo continued to apply pressure and Robert Ljubičić would put the Croatian champions ahead in the 65th minute following an absolutely perfect through-ball from Petković in the box. Dinamo were 25 minutes away from the final round of CL qualifying…and then all sh*t hit the fan in injury time.
Dinamo would concede in the 92nd minute to a well struck AEK goal. No problem. All would have been still to play for in 30 minutes of extra time. However, instead of going into overtime at 3-3, Domagoj Vida (out of all people) would bang in a blocked penalty in the 100th minute to knock his former employer out of Champions League. My personal thoughts:
-soft penalty call on Ljubičić (even with VAR review)
-Vida was clearly in the box before the penalty was taken. Dinamo defense did an awful job of boxing him out, no question, but if Ljubičić handball was reviewed, how is Vida going into the box early not a violation?
-Livaković is a stud for blocking another “prime time” penalty. Nothing he can do on the Vida rebound.
-Props to Vida for not celebrating the goal against his former club and buddy on the national team, Livaković. Huge goal and he keeps his cool. Respect.
-Bišćan only used one sub on the night for Dinamo. Both goals for AEK were scored in extra time. ‘Nuff said.