August 15, 2023 – AEK defeated Dinamo 2-1 at Maksimir in the first leg of the Champions League qualifiers. The Croatian champion will have to look for a turnaround in the return match, which will be played in Athens on Saturday.
Dinamo threatened AEK already in the first minute. Luka Ivanušec played Robert Ljubičić, who passed it back to Marko Bulat. Bulat shot just wide of the goal from a little less than 20 meters out. Coach Igor Bišćan’s team established dominance and constantly attacked in the minutes that followed, but in the 16th minute, a shock almost came on the other side. After a wonderful breakthrough, Steven Zuber passed to Levi Garcia, whose close-range shot was brilliantly saved by Dinamo captain Dominik Livaković.
But better play finally brought a goal to Dinamo in the 39th minute. Marko Bulat took a fantastic free kick from a little more than 20 meters and hit an indefensible shot to give Dinamo the 1-0 lead. By the end of the first half, we saw another huge opportunity for Dinamo. Bogdan Mykhaylichenko escaped on the left side, faked the keeper, but then shot weakly with his right foot from a great position.
Dinamo started the second half much weaker than in the first. AEK took control of the game and scored a quick goal to equalize in the 59th minute. Dinamo lost the ball about 30 meters from the goal and Steven Zuber made it 1-1.
Dinamo immediately started to attack after the goal. In the 62nd minute, AEK goalkeeper Cican Stanković stopped Bulat’s shot from the outside, and a minute later, Mahir Emreli hit the crossbar.
Unfortunately, Dinamo’s momentum did not last long, and AEK took control of the game again. In the 90th minute, Kostas Galanopoulos shocked Dinamo to score for the final 2-1. By the end of the game, Livaković saved Dinamo two more times. On both occasions, Domagoj Vida threatened the goal, but Dinamo’s captain prevented a worse result at Maksimir.
The Croatian champion now faces a difficult task in Greece. Due to the postponement of the first match after fan riots, the match will be played on Saturday at 20:45.
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