Friday, 6 August 2021

Europa Conference League Recap: Osijek Falls to CSKA Sofia (2:4), Rijeka and Hibernian Draw

August 6, 2021 - In the Europa Conference League 3rd qualifying round, Osijek falls to CSKA Sofia, while Rijeka and Hibernian draw in Edinburgh. 

In the first game of the Conference League 3rd qualifying round, Osijek suffered a 2:4 (1:3) away defeat to CSKA in Sofia.

The scorers for CSKA were Mazikou (30), Carey (39), Caicedo (42), and Yomov (74), while Turicov (41-own goal) and Topčagić (90 + 3) scored for Osijek. 

CSKA was better from the beginning of the game. Striker Mazikou accepted the ball 30 meters from Osijek's goal, made his way into the penalty area, and overcame Ivušić from 10 meters for the lead. 

CSKA increased their lead to 2:0 in the 39th minute. Turicov got the ball on the right wing and crossed to Carey who sent the ball into the net with his head.

Osijek briefly returned to the game only two minutes later. Fiolić took the corner which forced Turicov to beat his own goalkeeper with an own goal header for 2:1. 

However, 2:1 lasted just over a minute. CSKA broke through the left side of Osijek's defense, this time Jomov fought for the space and crossed to Caicedo who scored for 3:1. 

In the second half, CSKA took the lead at 4:1, primarily thanks to the fast-footed Caicedo who rushed up the left side to find Yomov, who had no difficulty clearing the empty net.

Topčagić gave Osijek some hope with a goal for the final 4:2 in the third minute of added time. The return match is in Osijek in one week.

Rijeka played 1:1 (0:0) in the first match of the Conference League 3rd qualifying round away to Hibernian in Edinburgh.

Ampem (61) put Rijeka in the lead and Boyle (67) equalized for Hibernian. 

Rijeka took the lead in the 61st minute when the ball circled around the home penalty area before Vukčević found Ampem, who managed to head past Macey at the door for the Rijeka lead. 

Unfortunately, only six minutes later, Hibernian equalized after a corner kick eventually found Boyle who scored for 1:1.  The hosts had a great opportunity in added time, but the Rijeka goalkeeper stopped Mackay's shot to keep the score even. 

The return match will be played in Rijeka in one week.

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 22 July 2021

Europa Conference League: Wins for Rijeka and Hajduk, Draw for Osijek in 2nd Qualifying Round

July 22, 2021 - The first matches of the UEFA Europa Conference League 2nd qualifying round were played on Thursday, featuring Croatian clubs Rijeka, Hajduk, and Osijek. Rijeka and Hajduk both opened the new league with a win, while Osijek drew 0:0 in Poland. 

Gzira United v. Rijeka (0:2)

Rijeka opened the 2nd qualifying round tonight for Croatian clubs against Gzira United in Malta. 

Gzira became known to the Croatian public a few years ago when they came back from a 0:2 Hajduk lead in the first match and celebrated 1:3 at Poljud in the return, sensationally knocking out the Split club in the first round of the Europa League qualifiers.

While the first half went without goals, Denis Busnja put Rijeka in the lead in the 57th minute and Prince Ampem increased it to 2:0 in the 77th minute for the Rijeka win. Lepinijca received a second yellow in the 87th minute and was sent off. 

Hajduk v. Tobol

Hajduk and Tobol met at Poljud at 9 pm in front of over 11,000 spectators as fans returned to stadiums across the country. Tobol currently leads in the Kazakh championship after 19 rounds. They recorded 12 wins, six draws, and one defeat in the league. They have won the last three games, two of which were in the Kazakh Cup.

Hajduk, however, was the much better team in the first half, and a goal by wonderkid Marin Ljubicic put them in the lead in the 21st minute! Hajduk did not slow down in the second half, and another goal by Ljubicic increased Hajduk's lead to 2:0 in the 53rd. Hajduk continued to attack and was unlucky on a few occasions not to get another goal. The match ended 2:0 for Hajduk. 

Osijek v. Pogoń Szczecin

Osijek played away in Poland against Pogoń Szczecin, also from 9 pm. Pogon finished 3rd in the Polish championship last season. Croatian championship runners-up Osijek, however, opened the new season with a 3:0 win against Sibenik, cementing their talent from the start. 

While Osijek had chances in the first half, especially Mierez, the match was 0:0 at halftime. Neither team was able to score in the second half and the match ended 0:0. 

All teams will play the return match one week from today (July 29). 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Croatian Clubs in Europa Conference League: Osijek, Rijeka, Hajduk Learn Opponents

June 16, 2021 - A look at the Croatian clubs in Europa Conference League next month. 

After Dinamo found out who they will play in the first and second qualifying rounds of the Champions League (Valur, Omonia), Croatia's remaining three best-placed representatives participated in the draw for the new UEFA competition - the Conference League, reports Jutarnji List. Croatia does not have a single representative in the Europa League this season, but that is why it has three clubs in the Conference League - Osijek, Rijeka, and Hajduk. 

Croatian runner-up Osijek will play against Polish club Pogon Szczecin, where former Hajduk goalkeeper Dante Stipic currently plays. The first match is on July 22 at the Florian Krygier Municipal Stadium, and they return seven days later in Osijek.

Hajduk will play against Kazakhstani club Tobol. The first match will be played on July 22 at Poljud, and the return match is scheduled for July 29 in Kostanaj.

In the second qualifying round of the Conference League, Rijeka will play against the winner of the match between Santa Julia from Andorra and the Maltese club Gzira, which the Croatian football public knows very well for sensationally expelling Hajduk from the Europa League two years ago. The first match is scheduled for July 22 when Rijeka will play away, and the return is scheduled for seven days later.

In case Croatian champion Dinamo suffers a defeat against Valur at the start of the Champions League qualifiers and moves to the Conference League, they would play in the 2nd qualifying round against the loser of the match between Norwegian Bodo/Glimt and the Polish club Legia.

The draw

Rijeka was in group 4 with Viktoria Plzen, CSKA Sofia, and the better between Domžale (Slovenia) - Swift Hesper (Luxembourg), Glentoran (Northern Ireland) - The New Saints (Wales).

Rijeka's possible rivals were thus the winners between Sant Julià (Andorra) - Gzira United (Malta), Honka Espoo (Finland) - NSÍ Runavík (Faroe Islands), Struga (Macedonia) / Liepāja (Latvia), Europa FC (Gibraltar) - Kauno Žalgiris (Lithuania) and Dynamo Brest (Belarus).

Osijek was in Group 7 with Austria Vienna, Ljubljana's Olimpija, Basel, and Feyenoord. Osijek could thus draw the winners of Dečić (Montenegro) - Drita (Kosovo), Racing FC Union Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg) - Breidablik (Iceland), La Fiorita San Marino) - Birkirkara (Malta), Sfintul Gheorghe (Moldova) - Partizani (Albania), and the most dangerous of all the above clubs Pogoń Szczecin (Poland).

Hajduk was in Group 9 with Vojvodina, Aberdeen, Copenhagen, and Rosenborg, and unlike Rijeka and Osijek, the Split club could already find out who they will play as four teams are known in their group. Hajduk could have thus faced the winner between FH Hafnarfjördur (Iceland) / Sligo Rovers (Ireland), or Tobol Kostanay (Kazakhstan), BK Häcken (Sweden), Torpedo-Belaz Zhodino (Belarus), Panevezys (Lithuania).

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