Thursday, 30 September 2021

Europa League: Dinamo Tops Genk 3:0 in Belgium

September 30, 2021 - Dinamo tops Genk away in Belgium in the second round of the Europa League Group H. 

Dinamo played the second round of the Europa League Group H against Genk in Belgium. Dinamo won 3:0 with goals from Ivanušec (10') and Petković (45 + 3' - 11m, 67 '- 11m).

Dinamo recorded their first victory in this season's Europa League. The Croatian champion played away against Genk in the 2nd round of Group H and beat the host 3:0. After losing to West Ham (0:2) in the first round, Dinamo holds second place behind the English Premier League club. 

Dinamo has visited Belgium three times since Croatian independence until this Thursday, all in Europa League matches, and won all three times without conceding a goal. This tradition continued today.

Genk opened the game better and was more dangerous through possession, but Dinamo was the one who knew how to use the chance when it appeared.

The first goal was scored by the Croatian champion in the 10th minute. Luka Ivanušec scored for the 1:0 lead. 

Before the end of the first half, Dinamo shook the goal post after Oršić's shot, the home team retaliated in the same way through Heynen, and Dinamo again had a chance to increase the lead. Duje Čop fell in the penalty area after being hit by Toma, which was reviewed by VAR and called for a penalty. In the third minute of the extra time, Bruno Petković scored for 2:0.

Petković once again had an opportunity to score from the penalty spot and did in the 67th minute. Dinamo then calmly brought the game to an end at 3:0. 

After two matches played in the group, West Ham leads the table with six points. Dinamo is in second place with three points, the same as the third-placed Genk. Rapid is in last with one point. 

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Thursday, 26 August 2021

No Conference League for Rijeka this Season as PAOK Wins at Rujevica

August 26, 2021 - There will be no Conference League for Rijeka this season as PAOK wins at Rujevica (0:2) on Thursday. 

Rijeka welcomed the Greek club PAOK at Rujevica Stadium on Thursday in the return match of the Conference League playoffs. 

Unfortunately, Rijeka could not overcome PAOK at Rujevica and was left without a place in the Conference League group stage. Goran Tomić's side failed to get ahead after the first match ended 1:1. PAOK was better tonight with goals by Omar El Kaddouri and Thomas Murg.

PAOK furiously entered the game, dominated, and already in the sixth minute, it was clear that Rijeka had a tough match ahead. PAOK hit the post twice. First, Schwab shook the goalpost with a long-range shot before El Kaddouri hit the crossbar.

However, El Kaddouri made up for his miss in the 11th minute. Schwab found the Moroccan who took advantage of a sleepy Rijeka defense to make it 0:1. 

Rijeka started to wake up in the middle of the first half, and in the 32nd minute, they had their first good attempt. Drmić found Abass, who shot from 20 meters. Five minutes later, Abass found Tomečak, who missed a great opportunity.

The post again saved Rijeka in the 41st minute after El Kaddouri tried to increase PAOK's lead. 

Rijeka started to settle in the second half, and PAOK was no longer as dangerous as in the first, but Rijeka still struggled to create opportunities. Selahi had a solid attempt from a distance in the 55th minute, and Tomečak's shot in the 68th minute was blocked. 

As the game drew to a close, Rijeka tried to be more and more offensive, and their concentration in defense dropped. Escoval easily lost the ball in the danger zone in the 80th minute; Kagawa passed to Murg, who calmly pushed it past the helpless Prskalo to seal their fate at 0:2. 

Croatia will thus remain with one representative in European club competitions this season. Dinamo will play in the Europa League, and Rijeka failed to qualify for the Conference League group stage. 

Source: Index.hr

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Thursday, 19 August 2021

Europa Conference League Play-Offs: Rijeka and PAOK Finish 1:1 in Match 1

August 19, 2021 - Rijeka and PAOK drew in the first match of the UEFA Europa Conference League play-offs on Thursday in Thessaloniki. 

A hard-fought battle saw Rijeka draw against PAOK (1:1) in Thessaloniki in the first match of the Conference League play-offs.

Lepinjica scored for the Rijeka lead in the 33rd minute with a precise and powerful shot from more than 20 meters. PAOK, however, equalized thanks to a Galešić own goal in the fourth minute of added time, bringing the match to an even score. 

Rijeka was without several key players in this match, including Murić, Labrović, Drmić, Smolčić, and Selahi, who were injured. Stanić did not have the right to play either, because he has already played for Široki Brijeg in Europe this season. Stanić, however, can play for Rijeka in this season's Conference League only if they advance to the group stage of the competition. 

The exciting match saw a shocking ending. After PAOK created many opportunities, they only scored in the final minutes from a penalty (90+4), disappointing Rijeka who was on the verge of a great victory. Galešić sent the ball into his own net after a corner, which was also the last chance for the Greek club to equalize.

The return match at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka will be played in seven days (August 26, when the Croatian club will look for a chance to play in Europe this autumn. If Rijeka fails to beat PAOK in front of their fans, they will thus fail to qualify for the group stage of the Conference League this season. 

Recall, the only other Croatian club with a chance to play in a European competition this autumn is Dinamo, who lost 3:0 to Sheriff on Tuesday. 

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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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Friday, 30 July 2021

Europa Conference League Qualifiers: Hajduk Eliminated, Rijeka and Osijek Move to 3rd Round

July 30, 2021 - The return match of the UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers 2nd round was played on Thursday. Hajduk has thus been eliminated from the new competition, while Rijeka and Osijek move forward to the 3rd round.

Hajduk finished their European journey this season in the 2nd qualifying round of the Conference League, as Kazakhstani club Tobol beat them 4:1 in extra time and thus made up for the two-goal deficit from the first game in Split. 

It was 0-0 until the 56th minute until Tobol scored three goals in 11 minutes. Dušan Jovančić scored the leading goal for the home team, and then Igor Sergejev was accurate in the 61st and 67th minute for 3:0. Emir Sahiti brought hope to Hajduk, who reduced it to 3:1 in the fourth minute of the added time and thus took the game into extra time. Ashkat Tagibergen scored in the 118th minute for the final 4:1 and advanced Tobol into the 3rd qualifying round. 

Hajduk arrived in Kostanaj with a two-goal advantage thanks to Marin Ljubičić a week ago at Poljud.

Rijeka defeated Maltese club Gzira United 1:0 (1:0) in the return match of the 2nd qualifying round of the Conference League. As a result, a total of 3:0 secured them a place in the 3rd qualifying round to meet Scottish club Hibernian.

Rijeka scored the winning goal in the 27th minute when Josip Drmić sent the ball into the net after a cross from Ivan Tomečak.

Rijeka completely controlled the game at Rujevica as they bought a two-goal advantage (2:0) from the first game in Malta a week ago.

Osijek defeated Polish club Pogon 1:0 (1:0) at City Garden in the return match of the Conference League's 2nd qualifying round, which was enough for them to qualify for the 3rd qualifying round where they will meet Bulgarian club CSKA from Sofia.

Osijek scored in the 44th minute thanks to Hungarian Laszlo Kleinheisler, who was assisted by Slovenian Damjan Bohar.

The result of the first match played in Poland was 0:0. 

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

EURO 2020: Croatia Tops Scotland for 2nd Place in Group D and Round of 16 Spot!

June 22, 2021 - Croatia tops Scotland 3:1 in the final Group D match for 2nd place and a spot in the round of 16! 

Croatia and Scotland met in the decisive Group D match for a spot in the EURO 2020 round of 16. The two nations met at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Tuesday night. 

Both teams entered the match with one point. Croatia drew 1:1 against the Czech Republic and lost to England 1:0. Scotland drew 0:0 with England and lost to the Czech Republic 2:0. Both teams could make the round of 16 only with a victory, and if the match ended in a draw, both Croatia and Scotland would be eliminated.

About 11,500 fans were in the Hampden Park stands, and maybe 100 or so Croatia fans expected. 

Lineups

SCOTLAND: Marshall - McTominay, Hanely, Tierney - O'Donnell, McGregor, Armstrong, Robertson - McGinn - Adams, Dykes.

CROATIA: Livaković - Juranović, Lovren, Vida, Gavrdiol - Brozović, Kovačić - Vlašić, Modrić, Perišić - Petković.

Coach Zlatko Dalić thus left Kalinic, Sluga, Vrsaljko, Barisic, Caleta-Car, Brekalo, Kramaric, Budimir, Pasalic, Rebic, Badelj, and Ivanusec on the Croatia bench. 

The game started promptly at 20:00 GMT. Scotland received a corner kick in the first few seconds of the match. 

Croatia had their first attacking play in the 3rd minute thanks to Juranovic, Vlasic, and Modric moving up the right-wing. Petkovic received the ball in the offside position. 

A cross from Robertson into the box found McGinn for a close encounter in the 6th minute which Livakovic saved from a goal. 

Juranovic, Vlasic, and Modric attacked again in the 8th minute. Adams retaliated with a shot on goal moments later. 

Scotland was dangerous again in the 12th minute which Livakovic cleared. They shot right at Livakovic for an easy save one minute later. 

But a former Hajduk combination eased Croatia's nerves. Juranovic and Perisic found Vlasic who scored for 1:0 Croatia in the 17th minute!

Modric nailed a rocket at the Scotland goal in the 21st minute which touched the fingertips of the keeper but the ref called a goal kick. 

A shaky and slippery Croatia defense nearly saw Scotland score three times in the 23rd minute, but Livakovic kept the result at 1:0. 

Croatia possessed the game for the remainder of the half. Gvardiol launched a play up the left to Perisic and Juranovic who shot over the goal in the 37th minute. It's safe to say Croatia was looking far better than the first two games. Another Croatia attack moments later saw Perisic shoot over the goal. 

But Scotland came back with the equalizer after a quick counter and mishap in the Croatia defense. Livakovic could not save the day here - it was 1:1 in the 42nd minute. 

The match ended 1:1 at the half.  

Dalic went into the second half with no changes to the lineup. 

A Croatia attack saw Josko Gvardiol and the Scotland keeper collide in the 49th minute. Croatia had their first corner of the second half in the 53rd minute. 

Croatia had a brilliant chance in the 55th minute, but Modric played Perisic offside which Marshall saved in the end. 

A Scotland ball to the far post almost found McGinn for the Scotland lead but Croatia was lucky to keep it 1:1.  

Croatia went back into the lead thanks to their faithful leader. Luka Modric scored with a classic outside of the boot shot for 2:1 Croatia in the 62nd minute!

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Slobodan Kadic

Dalic subbed off Petkovic for Kramaric in the 69th minute. Barasic went on for Gvardiol in the 70th. 

Kovacic shot at the keeper in the 74th minute but Croatia continued to attack. 

Vlasic came out for Luka Ivanusec in the 75th minute. 

A sequence of two Croatia corners brought incredible luck. Modric crossed into the box which touched the top of Perisic's head for 3:1 Croatia in the 77th minute!!

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Slobodan Kadic

A Croatia corner in the final minute of regulation time was played short to Kramaric. The ref added 4 minutes to the end of the game.  

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Slobodan Kadic

A Scotland corner in the final two minutes was unsuccessful. Croatia finished 2nd in Group D for a spot in the round of 16!!!!!!

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Friday, 18 June 2021

EURO 2020: Croatia and the Czech Republic Play 1:1 in Glasgow

June 18, 2021 - Croatia and the Czech Republic played 1:1 at Hampden Park in Glasgow for their second-round Group D match of EURO 2020. 

After losing 1:0 to England at the start of the competition, Croatia chased a victory against the Czech Republic to hopefully bring them closer to the knockout phase. Any other result would significantly complicate their fate and a victory against Scotland in the last round would be imperative. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković; Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Gvardiol; Modrić, Kovačić; Brekalo, Kramarić, Perišić; Rebić

Czech Republic: Vaclik; Coufal, Čelustka, Kalas, Boril; Holeš, Darida, Souček; Masopust, Jankto, Schick

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Slobodan Kadic

The match started promptly at 17:00 GMT. 

The Czech Republic came out hungry and already had a dangerous opportunity in the 2nd minute.  Their first corner came one minute later which was headed just over the goal by Soucek.

Croatia's first corner came in the 6th minute after Perisic's ball across the box went long. Kovacic and Modric went short which was defended by the Czech keeper. 

A foul on Rebic in the 8th minute gave Croatia a free-kick from 30 meters.  Lovren shot and hit over the crossbar. 

The Czech Republic was dangerous again in the 12th minute with a shank over the goal.  

An unusual Modric mistake in the midfield saw him head the ball straight to a Czech player which prompted a quick attack and nearly a goal. Croatia's defense remained solid for the goal kick. 

Rebic took advantage of a weak goalkeeper clearance which deflected off his back and almost into the goal in the 20th minute.  

A quick one-two between Gvardiol and Brekalo resulted in a corner in the 22nd minute. Modric went short to find Kramaric, who went back to Modric then Perisic at the top of the box. Perisic aimed right at the Czech keeper. 

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Slobodan Kadic

An aggressive Croatia moved the ball to Vrsaljko on the right-wing in the 24th minute who crossed to the keeper. 

Croatia possessed well and moved the ball up the pitch in the minutes that followed. Gvardiol crossed into the box but it was another easy save for the Czech keeper. 

The Czech Republic had a corner in the 32nd minute. Croatia was robbed shortly after. Lovren and a Czech player went up for a header and a penalty was called for the Czech Republic after a VAR review. The Czech Republic scored for 0:1 in the 36th minute. 

Brekalo played the perfect through ball to Rebic just after the kick-off which he shot miserably wide. Kramaric shot in the 43rd which gave the keeper no trouble. The ref added the minutes to the first half. 

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Slobodan Kadic

A Kovacic foul outside the box resulted in another dangerous free-kick for the Czech Republic which was hit over. The match ended 1:0 for the Czech Republic at the half. 

Zlatko Dalic made two changs to start the second half. Bruno Petkovic went on for Rebic, and Luka Ivanusec for Brekalo. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick in the 46th minute which Modric played short. Croatia had their chance a minute later - Perisic was played down the left side, carried the ball into the box and onto his right foot, and nailed the goal far post for 1:1! 

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Slobodan Kadic

Croatia came out hungry to start the second half as they knew what was a stake. An incredible defensive backline in the 56th minute kept the game even. 

Vrsaljko fouled outside the box in the 60th minute. The ball went out for a corner which was headed over.

Vlasic came on for Kramaric in the 60th minute. 

The Czech Republic had a few dangerous played in the next five minutes, one of which saw Modric sprint back to get the ball out for a corner.  

An excellent Croatia attack between Gvardiol and Perisic found the foot of Vlasic who shot just over the goal in the 71st minute. 

The Czech Republic got fresh legs in the game with two subs in the 75th minute. 

Croatia tried to push plays down the left wing to Perisic which the Czechs defended well. Dalic subbed on Marcelo Brozovic for Kovacic with 3 minutes to go. 

Petkovic had a chance which went out for a corner in the 88th. Another corner came as a result of it which the Czechs cleared away. The ref added three minutes to the end of the match. 

The match ended 1:1.  

Croatia will play Scotland in their final Group D match on Tuesday, June 22, in Glasgow. 

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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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Monday, 14 June 2021

EURO 2020: Why Second Place in Group D is Better for Croatia

June 14, 2021 - England and Croatia met on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London to open Group D of EURO 2020. Only one goal decided the winner, which England scored in the 57th minute. But is getting first place in the group really the best option? A look at why second place in Group D is better for Croatia. 

Croatia met host England on Sunday in front of 22,500 fans - 22,000 of which were for England. Croatia was not only up against England's home-pitch advantage, but because of the strict COVID-19 measures still in place in the, only Croatia fans already inside of the UK were able to make it to the game. While there weren't many, they certainly stood out in their red and white checks at Wembley Stadium.

While Croatia's first 15 minutes of play were shaky, with England hitting the far post already in the first few minutes of the match, they found their footing after the 20th minute and moved up with pitch with attacking plays, but were still plagued with the same issue as always - scoring. 

Otherwise, the match between England and Croatia was incredibly even, which you can see displayed in the statistics below. 

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But is Croatia's loss to England so bad, after all? When talking about the group stage and crossover in the round of 16 - not at all. 

Since UEFA implemented the current competition format at the 2016 European Championships, in which 16 of the 24 national teams participating advance to the second round, four points are enough for the knockout phase, and maybe even three. In simpler terms, this means a single victory. 

Two national teams advance to the round of 16 from each of the six groups, followed by the top four third-place teams. 

Losing at Wembley is really not such a bad thing, because the team that finishes first in Group D will crossover with the 'group of death,' playing the second-place team of Group F, which includes France, Portugal, Germany, and Hungary.

This draw is far more difficult than getting second place in Group D, which crosses over with the second-placed team from Group E (Spain, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia) in the round of 16. If Croatia finishes third, they will play the winner of Group B (likely Belgium), the winner of Group E (likely Spain), or the winner of Group C (Netherlands). Thus, winning four to six points in the two remaining games will cement the second-place spot. 

Croatia will play next on Friday, June 18, against the Czech Republic in Glasgow. 

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Saturday, 15 May 2021

Dinamo Victory Against Tottenham Among 10 Best in this Season's Europa League

May 15, 2021 - The Dinamo victory against Tottenham (3-0) in the return match of the Europa League round of 16 was chosen among the 10 best matches of this season in that competition.

"The Europa League cannot be compared to the universal appeal of the Champions League, but in terms of drama and top entertainment, the competition is far above its weight," the European Football Federation (UEFA) said, announcing the ten best matches of this season in the most massive European Cup.

Among them is the fantastic Dinamo performance when they defeated Tottenham 3-0 at Maksimir Stadium and thus came back after the 0-2 defeat in London.

"After the match, Jose Mourinho went to Dinamo's locker room to congratulate the team that eliminated his team with a hat-trick by Mislav Oršić," UEFA writes, then quoted Damir Krznar.

"This was a wonderful match that you dream about, but don't you dare," Dinamo's coach emphasized at the time.

UEFA singled out two "must-see" moments of the match: Oršić's first goal and Dominik Livaković's fantastic defense against Harry Kane's shot in extra time.

Interestingly, in the selection of fans, Dinamo's victory is in a high second place with 30 percent of the vote.

Only the duel between the Rangers and Benfica, which ended 2-2, collected more votes. The Scottish side led 2-0 but the Portuguese club scored two goals in the last 10 minutes.

10 BEST MATCHES:

Manchester United - Roma 6-2 (first semifinal match)

DINAMO - Tottenham 3-0 (return match of the round of 16)

Arsenal - Benfica 3-2 (return match of the 16th final)

Leicester City - Slavia Prague 0-2 (return match of last 32)

PSV Eindhoven - Olympiacos 2-1 (return match of last 32)

Young Boys - Bayer Leverkusen 4-3 (first match of last 32)

Rangers - Benfica 2-2 (group)

Milan - Lille 0-3 (group)

Spart Prague - Celtic 4-1 (group)

Villarreal - Sivasspor 5-3 (group)

Source: HRT

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