Hajduk and Rijeka met in the Croatian Cup final tonight at a sold-out Poljud Stadium in Split.
Interestingly, in all four Croatian Championship matches this season, Rijeka was more successful at Poljud (1:2 and 1:3), and Hajduk fought back at Rujevica, winning 2:3 last fall and 0:3 a few weeks ago.
Rijeka last won the Cup two years ago, while Hajduk had been waiting for any trophy for nine years, last winning the Cup in 2013.
Rijeka and Hajduk have won the Cup six times in independent Croatia.
HAJDUK: L. Kalinić, Mikanović, Ferro, Elez, Melnjak, Fossati, Grgić, Sahiti, Krovinović, Mlakar, Livaja; Hajduk was without Nikola Kalinić due to a virus.
RIJEKA: Labrović – Krešić, Velkovski, Smolčić – Ampem, Selahi, Čerin, Vukčević – Pavičić – Obregon, Drmić
Hajduk showed they were hungry already in the first two minutes of the match, maintaining possession with Melnjak taking the first shot on goal. Livaja shot over the crossbar a minute later.
Rijeka found their rhythm in the next few minutes and pushed up into Hajduk’s half. Hajduk had a good chance from a free kick in the 8th minute which Melnjak headed over the post.
While Hajduk had the chances it was Rijeka to capitalize on theirs first. A breakaway for Drmić and a goal for 1:0 Rijeka.
Hajduk had their first corner in the 16th minute and continued to push into Rijeka’s half. Krovinović just missed the goal in the 20th minute.
Hajduk had another corner a minute later. And another in the 23rd minute. Ferro equalized for Hajduk for 1:1 in the 24th minute!
The match was back and forth for the next 5 minutes. Rijeka had a dangerous free kick in the 31st minute which deflected off of Hajduk’s defense and into Kalinić’s hands.
Melnjak was found in the penalty area in the 33rd minute, though his shot deflected for another Hajduk corner. And then Melnjak finally got his chance – he scored for 1:2 Hajduk in the 36th minute!
Smolcic was shown his second yellow in the 41st minute, forcing Rijeka to play with a man down for the remainder of the match. It was 1:2 for Hajduk at halftime.
Hajduk had their first corner of the second half already in the 47th minute. And another in the 51st. The match was back and forth for the next 5 minutes until a tragic Rijeka mistake in the defense helped Melnjak to his second goal of the match for 1:3 Hajduk!
Another corner for Hajduk in the 60th minute – they were beginning to outclass Rijeka now.
Mlakar was subbed off for Colina and Vukovic for Grgic as Hajduk’s first subs 61st minute.
Rijeka subbed off Lepinjica for Selahi and Muric for Pavicic a minute later.
Livaja had a super chance in the 67th minute which went out for a corner. He was hungry to score. Another breakaway for Livaja moments later went over the post.
Hajduk dominated for the next 10 minutes, leaving Rijeka without much of a chance to attack.
Rijeka’s first real chance of the second half came in the 80th minute but they shot over the goal.
Sahiti was subbed off for Biuk moments later.
Biuk forced a corner on his first touch in the 82nd minute. Livaja weakly shot to keep it 1:3 for Hajduk.
Rijeka had a. corner in the 84th minute and Stanic was subbed off for Cerin.
The match came to a halt in the 90th minute as Rijeka’s fans launched flares into the VIP section. And the match came to an end – Hajduk is the Croatian Cup champion!
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