Rijeka Celebrates Over Hajduk, Secures Second Place in Croatian First League

After Dinamo came in first in the Croatian First League, Rijeka has now secured second while Hajduk has placed third. 

The Adriatic Derby between Rijeka and Hajduk ended one of the most exciting seasons of the Croatian First League. In front of 7,000 fans at Rujevica, Rijeka, thanks to an excellent first half, celebrated in the final match of the season with a score of 3:1 over Hajduk - and after being last season’s champions, this year the team secured second place in front of the Split club, reports on May 19, 2018. 

With this victory, Rijeka also secured the third round of Europa League, while Hajduk will try to achieve the same on Wednesday in Vinkovci with a win against Dinamo in the Cup final.

Due to injury, the highly anticipated derby was missed by Hajduk goalkeeper Karlo Letica, who found himself on the preliminary list for the World Cup in Russia and was the hero of the last Adriatic Derby at Rujevica for saving a penalty. After nearly six months out of the goal, we saw the return of Hajduk’s now second goalkeeper, Dante Stipica.

Already 90 seconds into the game Rijeka came to the lead after Čolak surprised the poorly placed Stipica to find the back of the net. Hajduk's first real opportunity wasn't until the 17th minute when Said crossed from the left, but Rijeka's Leovac beat Tudor to the ball. 

After chances by Acosty and Čolak in the 21st minute, Čolak almost secured his second goal in the 34th minute. 

Two minutes later, however, another shot by Acosty was blocked by Savvas, which found the boot of Pavičić to strike at an unguarded net, making it 2:0 for the hosts. Hajduk's first shot on goal was in the 37th minute by Gyursco, but Sluga did not have to play much defense at all.

Hajduk played more open in the second half and had a great chance in the 49th minute from Gyursco’s free-kick, which Sluga brilliantly defended. Though one minute later, Hajduk redeemed themselves with a goal after Juranović's cross found Said for 2:1. 

Unfortunately, Hajduk's chances to win second place in the league dwindled when Borja Lopez was fiercely kicked off by the referee for a second yellow card in the 62nd minute. Hajduk had to play with a man down for another 30 minutes. 

Though Rijeka tried to take advantage of Hajduk’s hesitation, they were unable to score until the final seconds of extra time with a goal by Puljić for 3:1. Rijeka thus finished in second place this season, with Hajduk directly behind in third. The last time Hajduk came in second was in the 2011/2012 season. 

Hajduk and Dinamo will face each other in the Cup final in Vinkovci on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.