Monday, 5 September 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 8: Hajduk Comes from Behind with 5:1 Win, Rijeka's Struggle Continues

September 5, 2022 - The 8th round of the SuperSport HNL was played from September 2 to 4, 2022. The biggest match of this round was the derby between Dinamo and Rijeka, where we witnessed Rijeka's struggle this season continue as they sit at the bottom of the table. Here is our SuperSport HNL round 8 recap. 

Dinamo v. Rijeka (3:1)

Dinamo and Rijeka opened the 8th round on Friday, September 2, 2022, at Maksimir Stadium in front of 5,894 fans. 

Lauritsen scored for 1:0 Dinamo in the 28th minute, just two minutes before Spikic scored for 2:0. It was 3:0 for Dinamo in the 60th minute when Orsic scored his second goal. While all hope was lost for Rijeka by now, Vlasenko found the back of the net in the 84th minute for the final 3:1. 

 

Dinamo is currently in first place with 22 points, while Rijeka is in last place with 5 points and one game in hand. 

Varazdin v. Gorica (2:1)

Varazdin and Gorica met on Saturday, September 3, 2022, in front of 2,263 fans in Velika Gorica. 

Teklic assisted Elezi for 1:0 Varazdin in the 10th minute, while the same player scored in the 43rd minute for 2:0 at the half. Juric came back with a Gorica goal for 2:1 in the 61st minute. Sego was shown a straight red card in the 74th minute, while Juric was shown his second yellow in the 3rd minute of stoppage time. 

 

Varazdin is currently in 4th place with 12 points, while Gorica is in 9th with 5 points and a game in hand.

Osijek v. Sibenik (1:1)

Osijek and Sibenik met on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at City Garden Stadium in front of 2,944 fans. 

Kleinheisler put Osijek ahead for 1:0 in the 38th minute. Burgui equalized in the 78th minute for the final 1:1. 

 

Osijek is currently in 6th place with 9 points, while Sibenik is in 7th with 8. 

Istra 1961 v. Lokomotiva (1:2)

Istra and Lokomotiva met on Sunday, September 4, 2022, at Aldo Drosina Stadium in Pula. 

Pivaric put Lokomotiva ahead for 0:1 in the 24th minute. Istra's goal in the 36th minute was called offside after consulting VAR. Gorican scored for 0:2 in the 66th minute. Erceg got one goal back for Istra for the final 1:2 in the 81st minute. 

 

Istra is currently in 8th place with 8 points, while Lokomotiva is in 5th with 9. 

Hajduk v. Slaven Belupo (5:1)

Hajduk and Slaven Belupo closed the 8th round on Sunday, September 5, 2022, at Poljud Stadium. 

Hoxha put Belupo in the lead just two minutes before halftime for 0:1. Mlakar scored the equalizer for Hajduk in the 51st minute, before Hoxha was shown his second yellow in the 56th minute and thus forced Belupo to play with a man down for the remainder of the match. Colina scored for 2:1 Hajduk in the 60th minute and Atanasov for 3:1 in the 77th. Nikola Kalinic scored Hajduk's final two goals - in the 81st and 3rd minute of stoppage time for the final 5:1. 

 

Hajduk is currently in 3rd place with 12 points and two games in hand, while Belupo is in 2nd with 14 points. 

You can see the full HNL table HERE.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 August 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 7: Rijeka Drops to Last Place, Osijek Takes 3 Points against Hajduk

August 29, 2022 - The 7th round of the SuperSport HNL was held from August 26 to 28, 2022. The most exciting match of this round was the Osijek-Hajduk derby at City Garden Stadium, in which Osijek took 3 points. A look at the SuperSport HNL round 7. 

Gorica v. Istra 1961 (0:2)

Gorica and Istra opened the 7th round in Velika Gorica on Friday, August 26, 2022. 

After a scoreless first half, Erceg's goal was disallowed in the 70th minute after consulting VAR. Erceg found the back of the net just 11 minutes later to put Istra in the lead with 0:1. Erceg scored again in the 4th minute of stoppage time for the final 0:2 for Istra. 

 

Gorica is currently in 9th place with 5 points and one game in hand, while Istra is in 6th place with 8 points. 

Lokomotiva v. Slaven Belupo (0:1)

Lokomotiva and Slaven Belupo met in Zagreb on Saturday, August 27, 2022. 

The first half was full of yellow cards as Belupo was shown three and Lokomotiva one, though the match went into halftime without goals. The match's only goal came in the 80th minute when Kocijan scored for 0:1, which was the final result. 

 

Lokomotiva is currently in 8th place with 6 points, while Belupo is impressively in 2nd with 14. 

Rijeka v. Varazdin (1:2)

Rijeka and Varazdin met at Rujevica Stadium on Saturday, August 27, 2022. 

Another scoreless first half was quickly changed at the start of the second when Djouahra put Rijeka ahead in the 47th minute. Pavlovic was shown his second yellow in the 73rd minute, forcing Rijeka to play with a man down for the rest of the match, and Teklic equalized a minute later from the penalty spot. Kolaric made it 1:2 for Varazdin in the 87th minute, and it could have been 1:3 if Peric's goal was not called offside in the 3rd minute of stoppage time. 

 

Rijeka has dropped to last place with 5 points and one game in hand, while Varazdin is in 4th place with 9 points. 

Sibenik v. Dinamo (1:2)

Sibenik and Dinamo met in Sibenik on Sunday, August 28, 2022. 

Ivanusec put Dinamo ahead in the 35th minute for 0:1. Mina equalized just two minutes later for 1:1 at the half. A penalty taken by Petkovic put Dinamo back in the lead in the 68th minute, which was the final score. 

 

Sibenik is currently in 7th place with 7 points, while Dinamo sits in first place with 19. 

Osijek v. Hajduk (2:1)

Osijek and Hajduk closed out the 7th round at City Garden Stadium on Sunday, August 28, 2022. 

It was an emotional game for Hajduk as Marko Livaja learned of his father's tragic passing early on Sunday morning. Leovac scored Osijek's first goal in the 23rd minute for 1:0, before Beljo scored a penalty for 2:0 just 4 minutes before halftime. Livaja scored a penalty for Hajduk to reduce the score to 2:1 in the 72nd minute. Mlakar's goal was called offside by VAR in the 83rd minute, and the match ended 2:1 for Osijek. 

 

Osijek is currently in 5th place with 8 points, while Hajduk is in 3rd place with 9 points and two games in hand. 

You can see the full HNL table HERE

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Hajduk Drops Out of UEFA Europa Conference League After Play-off Defeat to Villarreal

August 25, 2022 - Hajduk has dropped out of the UEFA Europa Conference League on a 2-6 aggregate to Villarreal. The Split club lost 0:2 at Poljud on Thursday night. 

Hajduk and Villarreal met in the second leg of the Conference League play-off at a sold-out Poljud stadium on Thursday. In the first match, Villarreal won 4:2 in Valencia, meaning Hajduk needed to score three goals to have a chance. 

Villarreal is one of the best European teams and was certainly the favorite to move ahead. The Spanish club is last year's Champions League semi-finalist, and Europa League champions the season before that, knocking out Dinamo Zagreb on their way to the title.

Hajduk had met Spanish clubs five times so far in European competitions but failed to move past them. 

"It will be a difficult test because Villarreal likes to control the game and have possession of the ball. We have to be patient and focused for the whole 90 minutes and pay attention to small details," Hajduk coach Valdas Dambrauskas said before the match. 

"In that beautiful stadium, we expect a good atmosphere in which we will try to manage the match," said Villarreal coach Unai Emery. 

Lineups

HAJDUK: Kalinić - Mikanović, Awaziem, Elez, Melnjak - Grgić, Fossati - Sahiti, Krovinović, Biuk - Livaja

VILLARREAL: Reina - Kiko, Mandi, Cuenca, Pedraza - Chukwueze, Parejo, Coquelin, Baena - Lo Celso, Nicolas

Match report

Villarreal had their first attack in the 2nd minute, which went out for a goal kick. Melnjak played a hospital ball to a Villarreal player at the top of the box. Kalinic luckily saved the shot, but Hajduk fouled in the next play. A free-kick awarded to Villarreal found the head of Baena, who went over the post. 

It was a shaky first five minutes for Hajduk, who was playing nervously. 

A quick counter which started from Awaziem found Sahiti on the right and went out for Hajduk's first corner. The ball was played out by the Villarreal defense and sent back in by Sahiti, who found Livaja's head. Marko just missed near post. 

Another attack for Hajduk came in the 10th minute and Fossati managed to get a shot off which was blocked. 

Another shaky instance in the Hajduk defense came a minute later and was luckily cleared by Melnjak. 

Another brilliant attack by Hajduk in the 14th minute saw Livaja get a shot off which was deflected out for a corner. Krovinovic found Livaja again, whose one-touch shot went over the goal.  

Sahiti dribbled through the Villarreal defense in the next play and shot at the keeper. Livaja tried lobbing the keeper from the halfway line in the 16th minute.  And he hit another rocket that went just wide of the far post in the next play. 

Mikanovic was shown a yellow card in the 19th minute. 

Villarreal tried a quick counter in the 22nd minute but shot straight at Kalinic. Hajduk countered back and Biuk got a shot off which was deflected to Reina. 

Hajduk was hungry and had another corner in the 25th minute, followed by another after that. 

Villarreal started to possess the ball and tried to move into the box. Nicolas' fancy footwork couldn't move past Hajduk's defense. 

A Hajduk free kick in the 30th minute was played short to Biuk on the left. The young midfielder cut into the middle and fell for a foul, but the ref said to play on. Hajduk's next attack was called offside. 

A dangerous free kick for Villarreal in the 34th minute was taken in front of the corner spot. Luckily the ball went straight to Kalinic. 

But just a few minutes later, Pedraza had his chance, playing around Hajduk's defense with no one in the block. He shot far post into Kalinic's goal for 0:1 Villarreal. Hajduk's hope had dwindled. 

A Livaja free kick in the 41st minute was taken from about 30 meters out and went just wide of the post. The first half ended 0:1 for Villarreal. 

Villarreal made one sub to start the second half - Capoue went on for Coquelin. Hajduk did not make any changes. 

A dangerous chance for Villarreal came in the 47th minute, which was blocked by the Hajduk defense. A standout save by Kalinic in the 51st minute stopped Villarreal from going ahead by two goals. 

Another attack for Villarreal in the next minute went out for a corner. Hajduk managed to clear any dangerous plays and tried to calmly move the ball into Villarreal's half but could not get a shot off. 

In the next attack, Chukwueze's shot slipped through Kalinic's hands and into the goal for 0:2 Villarreal. Hajduk would now need 4 goals to bring the match to extra time. 

Villarreal made substitutions in the 58th minute - Moreno came on for Jackson and Morales for Lo Celso. 

Hajduk made their first subs in the 59th minute - Lovrencsics came on for Mikanovic and Mlakar for Sahiti. 

Fossati was subbed off for Vukovic in the 65th minute.  

Mlakar had a great chance to score a minute later but just missed the far post. 

Krovinovic was fouled right on the corner of the box in the 71st minute. The same player took the free kick, which went out for a goal kick. 

Hajduk had a free kick and a corner in the 75th minute without a chance for a goal. 

Pau Torres came on for Pedraza and Foyth for Kiko in the 79th minute. Colina came on for Melnjak and Simic for Elez in the same minute. 

There were no dangerous chances for either team in the final 10 minutes. The ref added 3 minutes of stoppage time, in which no one scored.

Hajduk has thus dropped out of the UEFA Europa Conference League. 

Post-match comments 

Villarreal coach Unai Emery

"We played against a team that is good today but also has a rich past. The atmosphere created by the fans was special, and we enjoyed it. I'm sorry when a team like Hajduk is left out of the European competition. With this kind of atmosphere and fans, it deserves to be in the European competition. I have to repeat that in the first game, we made several mistakes, and now we managed to improve some things that we did in the first game at a lower level. This is Europe; we have to be concentrated and satisfied with this kind of game."

Hajduk coach Valdas Dambrauskas

"I can't fault the players. We were ready and better than in the first game. The difference in class between us and Villarreal is too big, especially in two games. We turn to Osijek, which for us as the final, will not be easy, but we have to focus. We showed a level we can be proud of, but we have to improve," said Dambrauskas.

"A big thank you to the fans for their support during and after the match. It's a big responsibility. I'm not afraid to say it, and I know it sounds like a cliché, but we really have the best fans in Europe. We really do. Someone compares us to Napoli and Marseille, but we are not even the first in Croatia, we do not play in the European League nor the Conference League, and we have such support. The players and we are very proud to have this kind of support."

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Tough Night for Hajduk as Villarreal Dominate in Conference League Play-off First Leg

August 18, 2022 - Villarreal dominates in the Conference League play-off first leg, beating Hajduk 4:2 in Spain. 

Villarreal and Hajduk met on Thursday in Valencia, Spain, for a spot in the Conference League group stage. 

Hajduk has been waiting 12 years for a spot in the group stage of a European competition. Tonight, they met last year's Champions League semi-finalist and Europa League champions the season before that, knocking out Dinamo Zagreb on their way to the title.

Villarreal had not seen defeat in their last ten games and recorded victories against Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and Inter. Villarreal is led by Unai Emery, who managed Sevilla, PSG, and Arsenal before Villarreal. 

"Hajduk Split is a big name; it has a history, and it commands maximum respect and admiration. I know that. Kalinić, Simić, and Livaja, are players who have an international reputation and are recognized around the world. It is important for us to win. I talk about Hajduk to my players with great respect,'' Emery said before the game.

According to estimates, over a thousand Hajduk fans arrived in Valencia for Thursday night's match. 

Lineups

Villarreal (4-4-2): Reina - De la Fuente, Mandi, Pau Torres, Pedraza - Chukwueze, Parejo, Capoue, Baena - Morales, Jackson

Hajduk(3-5-2): Kalinić - Elez, Borevković, Awaziem - Mikanović, Grgić, Krovinović, Sahiti, Melnjak - Biuk, Livaja

Match report

Villarreal had their first chance of the match already in the 2nd minute, but Chukuweze shot wide of the goal.

Not even a minute later, Hajduk countered and shocked Villarreal. Livaja found Stipe Biuk, who ran into the penalty area at the perfect time to put the ball into the back of the net for 0:1 Hajduk! 

Melnjak and Livaja played a one-two in the 7th minute, which saw Melnjak get a shot off, but it was saved by the Villarreal keeper Reina.

A dangerous situation in front of Kalinić's goal in the 10th minute, but Mikanović calmly played it out for a Villarreal corner.

Livaja was shown a yellow card in the 13th minute, which is his second in this play-off. 

Villarreal equalized in the 15th minute. Morales shot from 10 meters, checked Kalinic, and scored for 1:1. 

Three minutes later, it was 2:1 for Villarreal off of a Livaja own goal. 

A corner for Villarreal in the 22nd minute was cleared by the Hajduk defense.

Villarreal took control of the game and dangerously attacked Hajduk's half. Hajduk struggled to get possession of the ball.

Hajduk had a corner in the 28th minute. The play ended in Krovinovic crossing to Melnjak in the box, who played the keeper. Hajduk countered in the next minute and Krovinovic shot from 20 or so meters out after seeing Livaja was offside. Another shot went to Reina.

"Hajduceeee" was all you could hear from the Spanish stadium. The commentators said that "Villarreal may be dominating the game, but Torcida is dominating the stands."

Chukuweze tried finding Morales' head in the 34th minute, but his attempt went over the goal. Two minutes later, Hajduk's shaky defense allowed too much space for yet another goal. Morales scored 3:1 in the 36th minute. 

Mikanović tackled Morales on the edge of the penalty area in the 41st minute for a Villarreal free kick which went out for Hajduk's ball. 

Villarreal was just too good for Hajduk in the first half and totally controlled the game. Hajduk struggled to hold onto the ball and relied on quick counters to attack. 

A free kick was awarded for Hajduk in the 44th minute, which went off Villarreal for a Hajduk corner. One minute of stoppage time was added to the end of the half. Villarreal capitalized on a quick counter. Moreno found himself 1-on-1 with Kalinic to score for 4:1. 

The second half began without any changes. 

Hajduk held possession in the first few minutes, and Biuk's diagonal shot in the 47th minute was deflected for a Hajduk corner. 

Kalinic made a brilliant save on Baena's shot in the 54th minute. 

Hajduk's defense continued allowing too much space for Villarreal. 

Biuk again dribbled into the box and won a corner for Hajduk in the 60th minute. 

Pau Torres and Lo Celso entered for Pedraza and Moreno in the 62nd minute. 

Villarreal was dangerous again in the next few minutes, with a corner in the 65th minute. 

Hajduk made their first subs in the 69th minute - Lovrecsics came on for Mikanović and Mlakar for Sahiti. Morales was subbed off for Jackson in the 73rd minute. 

Two more changes for Hajduk came in the 78th minute - Fossati and Nikola Kalinic entered the match for Elez and Livaja.  

The result didn't matter - Torcida was still the loudest in the stadium. 

A minute after Kalinic was subbed on, he entered a nasty tackle with Mandi, resulting in what looked like a split-open cheek. The Hajduk player was covered in blood, and Atanasov was subbed on. Hajduk was awarded a penalty which Fossati scored for 4:2 Hajduk in the 85th minute. 

A free kick was awarded to Hajduk two minutes later, which went out for a corner. Hajduk had a few minutes left to get another goal and not concede one, which would be huge going into the match next week in Split. 

Krovinovic struck the near post with his left foot in the 89th minute. 

The ref added four minutes of stoppage time to the match. Neither team was able to score.

The return match will be played on Thursday, August 25, at a sold-out Poljud Stadium. 

Post-match comments

"The next game should be easier to prepare for. Players can only improve by playing games like this. It started great for us, but we were naive, and we could have reacted much better. I would have preferred that they didn't score goals like that. We will have to be better in Croatia," said Hajduk coach Dambrauskas.

"We wanted to have better coverage in the midfield because Villarreal is integrated into the middle and in the space. Awaziem is a very calm player with the ball. I think he played a pretty good game," said the Hajduk coach.

"You won't believe what I'm going to tell you, but when you watch the next game, the atmosphere will be completely different, and our mentality will be different. With God's help, anything can happen. We will focus on the next game, analyze the opponents and try to win."

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 15 August 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 5: Dinamo Shocks Hajduk, Rijeka Drops to 9th, Bjelica on Way Out

August 15, 2022 - The SuperSport HNL 5th round was held last weekend, bringing some surprising results - especially amongst the traditionally top clubs. And we're not only talking about the Eternal Derby. A look at the SuperSport HNL round 5. 

Sibenik v Istra 1961 (0:0)

The 5th round opened on Friday, August 12, 2022, at Stadion Šubićevac in front of 1296 fans. 

This match wasn't too exciting to watch, as it finished without goals. Sibenik had eight shots compared to Istra's 9, while Sibenik held 44% possession to Istra's 56%. Sibenik committed 17 fouls to Istra's 7. 

 

Sibenik is currently in 5th place with 6 points, while Istra is in last place with 6 points. 

Gorica v. Lokomotiva (3:2)

Gorica and Lokomotiva played the next match on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at Radnik Stadium in Velika Gorica.

A bit more exciting than Friday's game, Vasij put Lokomotiva ahead for 0:1 in the 9th minute, which was the result at the half. Kalik equalized for 1:1 in the 60th minute before Fruk made it 2:1 six minutes later. Da Cruz made it 3:1 for Gorica in the 79th. Five minutes later, Tuci scored for the final 3:2. 

 

Gorica is currently in 6th place with 5 points and one game in hand, while Lokomotiva is in 4th with 6. 

Dinamo v. Hajduk (4:1)

Dinamo and Hajduk met for their first big derby of the season on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at Maksimir Stadium. Fourteen thousand three hundred one fans were in attendance. 

After continuous pressure from Dinamo in the first half, Hajduk went ahead thanks to Livaja and Atanasov, who scored in the 2nd minute of stoppage time for 0:1 Hajduk. And then things went downhill for the Split club, especially after coach Valdas went in with fresh legs in the defense. Dinamo was up 2:1 with goals by Baturina and Ademi in the 61st and 64th minutes. Gojak made it 3:1 in the 84th minute, and Orsic 4:1 in the 90+1'. 

 

Dinamo sits in 1st place with 13 points, while Hajduk sits in 3rd with 8 points but two games in hand. 

Osijek v. Varazdin (2:2)

Osijek and Varazdin met at City Garden Stadium on Sunday, August 14, 2022.

After a scoreless first half, Jugovic made it 1:0 for Osijek in the 57th minute and Brodic 1:1 eight minutes later. Beljo put Osijek back ahead in the 77th minute for 2:1, and Peric made it 2:2 in the 81st. 

Will Osijek coach Nenad Bjelica finally get sacked? With unimpressive results round after round, his sacking seems inevitable. Croatian media reported on Monday morning that Nenad Bjelica would sit down with the president of Osijek, Ferenc Sakalje, to negotiate the best option for parting ways. 

 

Osijek is currently in 7th place with 5 points, while Varazdin is in 8th with 5. 

Rijeka v. Slaven Belupo (0:1)

Rijeka and Belupo closed the 5th round on Sunday, August 14, 2022, at Rujevica Stadium.

After a scoreless first half, Crnac scored for Belupo in the 70th minute, giving Belupo a massive three away points and pushing Rijeka to the bottom of the HNL table in second to last place. 

 

Rijeka is currently in 9th place with 4 points and one game in hand, while Belupo is in 2nd place with 8 points. 

You can see the HNL standings here

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Hajduk and Villarreal to Meet in Europa Conference League Play-off!

August 10, 2022 - Hajduk and Villarreal will meet in the Europa Conference League play-off! Hajduk advanced past Vitoria in the 3rd qualifying round with a 3:2 aggregate on Wednesday in Portugal. 

Vitoria and Hajduk met in the second leg of the Conference League 3rd-round qualifiers. Several thousand members of Hajduk fan group Torcida were in attendance. 

Hajduk came to Dom Afonso Henriques stadium with a two-goal advantage after defeating Vitoria 3:1 in the first match at Poljud. Recall, the away goal rule is no longer in force.

"We have a plan that we want to implement. We have to have the same approach as in the home game. I am sure that Vitoria will play a different match than the one in Split; I believe that they are a better team than what they showed at Poljud," said coach Valdas Dambrauskas before the match. 

Lineups

Vitoria Guimaraes: Varela, Miguel, Amaro, Mumin, Ogawa, Andre Almeida, Pains, Tiago Silva, Lameiras, Anderson, Antonin

Hajduk: 
Kalinić, Mikanović, Simić, Elez, Melnjak, Vuković, Grgić, Krovinović, Sahiti, Livaja, Čolina

Live match report

Vitoria had a dangerous free kick just outside the box in the 2nd minute, which was cleared by the Hajduk defense.

Just two minutes later, the worst-case scenario happened for Hajduk - Ogawa dribbled up the left wing and found Anderson alone at the top of the box. The Brazilian footballer brilliantly scored with his back to the goal, finding the upper right corner of Kalinic's goal for 1:0 in the 5th minute. 

Hajduk had their first attack of the match in the 11th minute when Grgic flew up the left wing but crossed into the Vitoria defense. 

Hajduk played nervously when in possession and could not connect more than a few passes at a time. Vitoria's pressure did not stop, and there were a few close calls in the next 10 minutes of play. Hajduk's defense was tested.

Hajduk continued playing unsuccessful long balls from the back, and by the 22nd minute, Vitoria had 8 attacks compared to Hajduk's 3. 

Hajduk's best chance of the match came in the 23rd minute - Sahiti received the ball in the midfield and played a flawless ball through the Vitoria defense to Colina, who was one-on-one with the Vitoria keeper. Colina chipped the keeper and just went over the goal post.

Hajduk, at least, had stabilized their play. Much better than what we saw in the first part of the match. 

Another chance for Hajduk came in the 26th minute. Krovinovic crossed to Colina whose header went over the goal.

Anderson tried to surprise Kalinic by shooting from 30 meters in the 30th minute, but the Hajduk keeper defended without any problems.

Another close call for Hajduk came a few minutes later in front of Kalinic's goal, but the ball luckily couldn't reach Anderson in the box. 

Colina sent the ball into the box in the 38th minute, which was cleared by the Vitoria defense. 

Hajduk had another chance in the 44th minute, but Sahiti was called offside. The match erupted into a mini brawl after the Vitoria keeper forcefully picked Sahiti up from the pitch. Vukovic ran over in Sahiti's defense, and Tiago Silva slapped Sahiti in the head, which the ref failed to see. There is no VAR in Conference League, and if there was, it could have easily been a red card for Silva. Instead, the ref gave Silva, Varela, and Vukovic yellow cards. 

The match was 1:0 going into the half. 

The second half started with one sub for Hajduk - Borevkovic came on for Simic, who has a yellow card. 

Vitoria's first chance came in the 46th minute, which was cleared out for a Vitoria throw-in. 

Vitoria had a free kick in the 52nd minute, which fortunately went out for a goal kick. One minute later, Jota nutmegged Hajduk's defense to find Anderson at the top of the box. His shot was blocked by Elez and went out for a corner. 

Hajduk had a free kick in the 57th minute, which was cleared by the Vitoria defense, and the next play was a corner or Hajduk. Krovinovic crossed into the Vitoria keeper's hands. 

Elez blocked Anderson's attempt a minute later, going out for a Vitoria corner, and was deflected out for another corner. 

Colina was subbed off for Biuk in the 62nd minute. 

Hajduk's best chance of the second half came in the 69th minute - Biuk crossed into the box from the left wing, which was a second too quick for Livaja.

Hajduk had a quick counter in the 70th minute after a few dangerous Vitorira attacks.

Jota shot near post in the 72nd minute. 

Dambrauskas decided to play defensively from the 73rd minute, adding an extra stopper. Awaziem came on for Sahiti. 

Good news for Hajduk came in the 78th minute - Tiago Silva was shown his second yellow card and sent off, forcing Vitoria to play with a man down for the remainder of the match. 

Krovinovic shot at the keeper in the 83rd minute and Jota had a chance for Vitoria in the next play. 

Mikanovic and Vukovic were subbed off for Lovrencsics and Atanasov in the 86th minute. 

Biuk had a shot on goal in the 88th minute but hit near post and was ultimately called offside. Four minutes of stoppage time were added. Vitoria had a corner in the final seconds, but could not score.

Hajduk thus advanced to the Conference League play-off against Villarreal!

Post-match interview

Hajduk coach Valdas Dambrauskas said that they expected a tough game.

"We didn't have the control we wanted in the first half; the second half was better. We are happy that we passed, but I am not the happiest coach because of how we played, but I am happy that we passed," he said. 

"We knew the match would be difficult. We have experienced players, but we don't have an experienced team. This group of players is playing together in Europe for the first time. Vitoria is a good, young team."

Villarreal is next

"This club has tradition, history, and great victories in the past. We don't go to Spain to take pictures with Villarreal players and post them on Instagram. Let's go there and compete; I believe we are not without chances.

Before that, Hajduk will face Dinamo.

"We are Hajduk; we are playing the biggest derby on Saturday. We have 23 players who are registered; I believe that every player will be looking forward to the next game. I think that now is a very good time to be a Hajduk player, first Dinamo, and then playing in Spain."

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 8 August 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 4: Bad Weekend for Dinamo, Osijek, and Rijeka

August 8, 2022 - The SuperSport HNL 4th round was held from August 5 to 7, 2022. This round was without the originally scheduled Hajduk and Gorica match, as Hajduk requested a postponement due to Conference League obligations. And it wasn't a good weekend for Croatia's top clubs, Dinamo, Osijek, and Rijeka. A look at SuperSport HNL round 4. 

Varazdin v. Dinamo (1:1)

Varazdin and Dinamo opened the 4th round in Varazdin on Friday, August 4, in front of 7,132 fans. Dinamo went into the match coming off of a 2:1 win against Ludogorets in the Champions League qualifiers earlier in the week. 

The Croatian champion was the first to score with a goal from Spikic just before the ref blew the whistle to end the first half. But former Hajduk player Sego made sure they didn't stay ahead, scoring the equalizer in the 63rd minute for 1:1 and the final result. 

 

Varazdin is currently in 8th place with 4 points, while Dinamo sits in first with 10 points. 

Slaven Belupo v. Sibenik (0:0)

Belupo and Sibenik met in Koprivnica on Saturday, August 5, in front of 473 fans. 

The match was uneventful, displayed in the 0:0 final result. 

 

Belupo is currently in 5th place with 5 points, while Sibenik is in 4th with 5 points. 

Istra 1961 v. Osijek (1:0)

Istra and Osijek met on Saturday, August 6, in Pula. 

Tensions are already high among Osijek supporters who have been calling for coach Nenad Bjelica to be sacked. Losing to Istra on Saturday did not help. 

Istra scored first in the 62nd minute when Bakrar found the back of the net, though his goal was ultimately called offside after consulting VAR. But that didn't stop Bakrar from killing Osijek's hopes again with a goal in the match's final minutes (90+4') for the 1:0 Istra win. Coach Bjelica has yet to resign, nor has he been asked to step down as coach by the club. 

 

Istra is currently in 9th place with 3 points, while Osijek is in 6th with 4. 

Lokomotiva v. Rijeka (3:1)

Lokomotiva and Rijeka closed out the 4th round on Sunday, August 7, in Zagreb. 

Lokomotiva took the lead in the 14th minute when Gorican scored for 1:0, and Cokaj made it 2:0 just five minutes later. Karrica gave Rijeka some hope in the 34th minute scoring for 2:1, but Vasilj settled all doubts about the winner with Lokomotiva's goal in the 79th minute for the final 3:1. 

 

Lokomotiva is currently in 3rd place with 6 points, while Rijeka is in 7th with 4. 

Hajduk v. Gorica (Postponed)

Hajduk asked to postpone their 4th-round match against Gorica due to Conference League obligations. After beating Vitoria at Poljud on Thursday 3:1, Hajduk plays the return match against the Portuguese club on Wednesday in Portugal. Hajduk has played only two rounds in the SuperSport HNL thus far, as Rijeka postponed their 2nd round match against Hajduk due to Conference League obligations. 

 

As it stands now, Hajduk is in 2nd place with 6 points and only two games played, while Gorica is in the last place with 2 points and three games played. 

You can see the HNL standings here

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 8 August 2022

Realities of a Female Football Journalist in Croatia: The Good, Bad, and Not So Ugly

August 8, 2022 - What's it like being a female football journalist in Croatia? A look into my life for the last 5 years. 

It all started when a former colleague told me I'd never see a press pass for Croatia national team games. Well, it actually started well before that.

I was born with a love for football and likely kicked my way out of the womb. My family history probably has something to do with it.

My grandfather was a sports journalist in Split for Slobodna Dalmacija in his early 20s and friends with many Hajduk players at the time. After swapping Split for NYC in 1958, he became one of the top football referees in New York and worked the line during Santos v. Benfica at Yankee Stadium in 1968. In other words, Pele v. Eusebio. My dad was the ball boy and met the entire Santos team in the locker room, including Pele, who signed his match program. And that wasn't my grandpa's only time reffing Pele, either. 

 

A few years later, my grandpa was chased down the streets of New York by the unhappy fans of a local Italian club. I guess they weren't pleased with his decisions during the match. The incident even prompted Split's most famous journalist (and my grandfather's dear friend), Miljenko Smoje, to write about it in Slobodna Dalmacija.

"If Miro wanted to get chased by fans, he should have stayed in Split."

My dad went on to play football, attended the 1974 World Cup in Germany as a fan, and was a coach in San Diego. He and my grandpa raised a team of players in my small hometown of Fallbrook, developing their talents from the ages of 10 to 18. It was only a matter of time before I swapped ballet shoes for Copa Mundials. 

My football career started at the age of six, playing recreational soccer for a team called the 'Spiders.' Often seen dancing on the pitch and confusing my ballet talents with what I was meant to do with a ball, I ultimately had to choose between ballet or soccer. Soccer won primarily because of the friendships I had made at the time. In ballet, everyone was looking out for themselves. 

I played competitively in San Diego from that point on, with practice three times a week, tournaments every weekend, and parents who had to sacrifice any free time they had. It took me to the Gothia Cup final in Sweden, Varsity all four years of high school, and friendships that turned into sisters to this day. 

Opting out of playing in college, my football career ended at 17, opening space for other things - like moving to San Francisco. But my love for football never dwindled, and I never missed a Hajduk match at Poljud during my summer visits to Croatia or cheering for the national team in the Euros or World Cup no matter where I was and no matter what time the games were. 

Fast forward to 2015. I move to Croatia, can attend every Hajduk home match of the season, and catch the Croatia national team playing around the country during international breaks. This was heaven. One year later, I joined Total Croatia News as the editor of Total Split. The sports editor position had already been filled, but we decided that I would write about specific events, which was how I eased my way in. I took over as Sports Editor in 2017 and told myself I would make the most of it. 

I had been writing about sports for maybe a month or so, getting my bearings around handball, water polo, and other sports I wasn't all too familiar with. What I knew was football, and what I wanted to write about was football, but I had to grip the ropes of all sports to justify my place in this role. Croatian athletes also excel in almost everything, meaning I had much to learn. 

The Croatia national team had a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in Zagreb that March, which made me think: "Why couldn't I attend as a journalist?" Considering my new role and all. I sent a message to my colleague and asked if he knew about the protocol for applying.

"I wouldn't even bother - you'll never get a press pass for Croatia games." 

Okay, that was encouraging. I knew I was young (26 at the time), a woman, and new to this whole thing, but to shut someone down so quickly was not something I'd stand for. I found out how to apply through HNS, did, and waited for a reply. I was an accredited journalist at my first official international football match on March 24, 2017. 

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The season press pass for Hajduk came shortly after that, and I covered my first Europa League campaign between Hajduk and Everton - at Goodison Park in Liverpool and Split.

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I was maybe in over my head covering my first away match, considering it was Wayne Rooney's Everton at the time. While I will never forget the euphoria amongst the fans of your club in another city, the feeling inside a Premier League stadium for the first time, and watching Nikola Vlašić against Rooney, what really got me was the return match a week later.

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I nearly fainted in the press box when Radošević scored a screamer against Everton at a sold-out Poljud. It had never been louder. And not advancing past Everton didn't matter. From that moment, there was no turning back. 

I wanted to be a football journalist. 

Later that year, Croatia continued their World Cup qualifiers. After an unimpressive 1:0 against Kosovo at a flooded Maksimir (so flooded that the game had to be stopped and finished the next day), the next match was the one that mattered, and Croatia needed a win against Finland.

The match ended 1:1 at Rujevica, forcing coach Ante Čačić's sacking and Croatia's fate at the 2018 World Cup uncertain. It was as if the life was sucked out of Rijeka, and Croatia, that night, though it was the draw that changed it all. And likely the most depressing post-match press conference I have attended. 

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But there was hope when the relatively unknown Zlatko Dalić came in to save the day, winning 2:0 away against Ukraine and pushing Croatia into the World Cup qualifying play-off against Greece. Croatia was going to the World Cup, and the chaos of writing through these qualifiers certainly took a few years off my life. 

As I was still quite new at this, I didn't expect to get a press pass for Russia, and looking back; I would not have wanted to be anywhere but Split that summer of 2018. But I definitely was not prepared for what was in store. 

Okay, the World Cup is a big deal. Still, considering Croatia's rather frightening display in the qualifiers, I don't think Croatia fans expected too much - and with tensions still high between Hajduk fan group Torcida and HNS, many were hesitant to get too excited in Split. "Maybe that'll take off some of the pressure," I thought. And then Croatia beat Argentina 3:0.

I knew I had to prove myself on the international stage reporting about the World Cup for Total Croatia News, as it was the biggest tournament I had covered thus far. Getting your fingers to type fast enough when covering these matches live is hard enough, but it's another thing when your country is at stake and you owe a quality match report to the enthusiastic Croatian diaspora, even during those nail-biting extra-time finishes and penalty shootouts. How I survived that, I'll never know. 

But there was another layer to my football journalism that summer - radio interviews. 

Given TCN's non-stop coverage of Croatia at the World Cup, coupled with Croatia's impressive play and Modrić and Lovren's fresh perjury charge in the Mamić case, all eyes were on Croatia that summer. And being one of few covering Croatia at length in English, my phone started ringing - especially once Croatia was matched up against England in the semi-final.

I thus became the Croatian correspondent for several radio stations in the UK that summer, one of which is the largest sports radio station in the world - talkSPORT. I counted over 20 radio interviews once all was said and done and Croatia became the 2018 World Cup finalist. I realized just how important it was to be a native English speaker and football journalist in a foreign country - especially when you're on the international stage.

Later that year, I had my first star-studded press experience at Wembley Stadium, when England gained revenge on Croatia in the UEFA Nations League, and even went into the TalkSport studio in London to recap the match.

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2018 ended with an interview request from BBC. And a year after that, I interviewed THE Mark Bosnich in Sydney, Australia thanks to Total Croatia News.

Covering football during the pandemic was not nearly as fun, but being amongst the select few allowed at a stadium when the ban on fans was still in force definitely brought necessary excitement to staring at the walls of your house. 

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And seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in action on Hajduk territory holds a special place in my heart. 

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As Nations League continued, so did qualifiers for the 2020 Euros, which Croatia clinched at Rujevica Stadium against Slovakia. With the tournament postponed by a year and a press application process that had to be repeated multiple times due to tournament delays, I wasn't feeling too confident that I'd be attending this one. But less than a month before the tournament began, I got the email: 

CONFIRMED: Accreditation Request for UEFA EURO 2020

And I was off to cover my first international tournament. 

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With the tail-end of the pandemic making it an absolute nightmare to make this happen, I persisted. After vaccinations and repeated Covid tests, exemptions from UEFA needed even to enter the UK, and QR codes necessary to grab a bite in London and Glasgow, I was one of few Croatian journalists that endured a Covid-riddled EURO 2020, covering Croatia from London to Glasgow and Copenhagen. And I was one of few women journalists at all. 

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The round of 16 match against Spain was undoubtedly the highlight, especially when a fan launched a full beer at my laptop after Croatia took the game to extra time at Parken Stadium. While I could have lost my job had my laptop died and I couldn't finish writing about that game, I would have left the Euros satisfied.

And while international football has given my career an unexpected boost, the best football experiences are the ones at home, at Poljud Stadium. Especially when you witness Hajduk win their first trophy since 2013, in the Croatian Cup final, just a few months ago. 

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What has being a female football journalist in Croatia taught me?

That anything is possible in Croatia, so long as you put your mind to it, especially when you love something as much as I love football. If you're passionate enough about something, it will show in your work, which will ultimately be recognized. In my case, my passion brought me to an international stage that 26-year-old Daniela would have never believed possible. Now, if I get a press pass for the World Cup in Qatar this year...

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Secondly, being a woman in a man's world is empowering. No matter which match I attend in Croatia or around Europe, I am always one of few women, if not the only, reporting from the press box. I have not been treated differently, nor have my opportunities been any different. The radio shows prove that - and TalkSport even called me a Croatian football expert. Even with my silly Californian accent. 

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And finally? Don't listen to your colleagues. At least when they tell you that you can't do something. You should always set out to prove people wrong. Football, especially, has that effect on people. 

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To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Monday, 25 July 2022

SuperSport HNL Round 2: Dinamo Crush Belupo, Lokomotiva Tops Osijek

July 25, 2022 - SuperSport HNL round 2 was held from July 22 to 24, 2022. The 2nd round only included four games as Rijeka asked to postpone the Adriatic Derby against Hajduk due to Conference League obligations. Here's our SuperSport HNL round two recap. 

Istra 1961 v. Varazdin (1:2)

Istra and Varazdin opened the 2nd round in Pula on Friday, July 22, 2022. 

While the first half went without goals, Marin put Istra ahead in the 70th minute for 1:0. Brodic equalized 7 minutes later for 1:1, before Postonjski gave Varazdin the lead and ultimate win in the 83rd minute for 1:2. 

 

Istra is currently in the last place with 0 points, while Varazdin is in 6th with 3. 

Gorica v. Sibenik (0:0)

Gorica and Sibenik met on Saturday, July 23, 2022, in Velika Gorica. 

The first half went without goals, and Kalik's goal in the 83rd minute was eventually called offside after consulting VAR. The match ended at 0:0. 

 

Gorica is currently in 8th place with 1 point, while Sibenik is in 9th with 1. 

Slaven Belupo v. Dinamo (1:5)

Belupo and Dinamo met on Saurday, July 23, 2022, in Koprivnica in front of 2613 fans. 

Marina missed a penalty for Belupo in the 2nd minute of the match, which was redeemed with a goal in the next play for 1:0 Belupo in the 2nd minute. Baturina scored 6 minutes later to equalize at 1:1. Orsric put Dinamo ahead in the 15th minute for 1:2 and Drmic five minutes after that for 1:3, which was the score going into halftime. And Dinamo wasn't finished yet. Misic made it 1:4 in the 74th minute, and Spikic 1:5 in the 90th, which was the final score. 

 

Belupo is currently in 7th place with 3 points, while Dinamo upped their goal differential this round to sit in first place with 6 points. 

Lokomotiva v. Osijek (2:1)

Lokomotiva and Osijek closed out the 2nd round on Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Zagreb. 

Kleinheisler put Osijek in the lead in the 16th minute, which was the result at halftime. Osijek also had a goal called offside by VAR in the 50th minute. Boskovic equalized for Lokomotiva in the 80th minute for 1:1 before scoring again for 2:1 six minutes later, which was the final score. 

 

Lokomotiva is currently in 4th place with 3 points, while Osijek is in 5th with 3. 

Recall that Rijeka and Hajduk did not play the Adriatic Derby in the 2nd round as planned after Rijeka asked for the game to be postponed due to Conference League obligations. The two teams will make up the 2nd round match when they have a free term. 

You can see the HNL standings HERE

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Conference League 3rd Round Qualifiers: Hajduk, Osijek, Rijeka Learn Opponents

July 18, 2022 - Hajduk, Osijek, and Rijeka learn their possible opponents in the Conference League 3rd round qualifiers beginning early next month. 

In the Conference League 3rd round qualifiers, Hajduk Split will play against the winner of the match between Portuguese club Vitória de Guimarães and Hungarian club Puskas Akademia.

Hajduk enters the hunt for its first European autumn after more than a decade and will have a difficult task ahead. Vitória de Guimarães finished sixth in the championship, and the team is full of young internationals - their average age is 23.6. According to Transfermarkt, the value of the team is estimated at 42 million euros, which is slightly more than Hajduk (41.4 million euros).

The last time they competed in Europe was in the 2019-2020 season when they were eliminated in the Europa League group stage.

Vitoria's best player is the young 22-year-old Andre Almeida, who is already a sought-after commodity on the market. Transfermarkt values him at 5 million euros, and reportedly Wolverhampton has already sent an offer of almost 10 million euros for the midfielder.

Puskas is the easier opponent, as several players have left the club, including new Hajduk player Toni Borevković.

The Hungarian club is much smaller than Vitoria, and Transfermarkt estimates them at 12.3 million euros. Jakov Puljić stands out among the better players. They finished third in the championship, 17 points behind Ferencvaros.

Puskas is also known for its fantastic stadium, the Pancho Arena, which was built in 2014 and accommodates 3,816 fans at total capacity.

Osijek and Rijeka could also play in the same stage of the competition if they are successful in the 2nd qualifying round.

If Osijek beats FC Kyzylzhar in the 3rd qualifying round, they can face Bulgarian club Botev Plovdiv or APOEL from Cyrpus. On the other hand, if Rijeka knocks out Swedish club Djurgården, they will play against Romanian club Sepsi Sfantu Gheorghe or Slovenian club Olimpija Ljubljana in the next round of qualifications. 

Hajduk will be the host in the first game, and the second leg will be played away, while Osijek and Rijeka will be guests in the first games, and the second legs will be played at home.

The first matches will be played on August 4, and the second leg on August 11.

Conference League 3rd qualifying round
Hajduk - Vitória de Guimarães (Portugal) or Puskas Akademia (Hungary)

Botev Plovdiv (Bulgaria) or APOEL (Cyprus) - Osijek

Sepsi (Romania) or Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia) - Rijeka

Dinamo Zagreb also learned their possible opponent in the Champions League 3rd qualifying round and the Europa League 3rd qualifying round.

If Dinamo wins against North Macedonian club KF Shkupi, they will play against the winner of the match between Ludogorec and Shamrock Rovers in the 3rd preliminary round of the Champions League.

If they advance to the 3rd preliminary round, Dinamo will play the first match away on August 2 or 3, while the return match will be played at Maksimir a week later.

If they lose against Shkupi, Dinamo will continue their European journey in the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League, where they will play against the losers from the same pair, Ludogorec - Shamrock Rovers.

The first match of the Europa League 3rd round qualifiers will be played on August 4, and the second week later, on August 11.

Source: Gol.hr

To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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