Europa League Round of 16: Dinamo Zagreb Defeats Benfica in First Leg!

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

March 7, 2019 – Dinamo Zagreb and Benfica met at Maksimir stadium on Thursday for the first leg of the Europa League round of 16. 

Dinamo and Benfica met in front of nearly 30,000 fans at Maksimir on Thursday to kick off the Europa League round of 16. Dinamo’s biggest match of the year, and perhaps the decade, saw tickets sell out in just two days. 

Bookies favored Benfica to advance over Dinamo, as they finished third place in their Champions League group stage, and Dinamo was forced to play without Izet Hajrović and Arijan Ademi for the grand spectacle. Due to a suspension, Dinamo coach Nenad Bjelica was also forced to watch the game from an ‘isolated’ position. 

Both teams started hungrily, and though Benfica had the first attack, it was Spanish national Dani Olmo that threatened Benfica’s goal more than once. The game went 37 minutes without a goal until a foul on Dani Olmo in the box awarded Dinamo a penalty. Petković scored for 1:0. While Gojak missed a one-on-one with the Benfica keeper, the game ended 1:0 at the half.

Dinamo continued with their momentum in the second half, and in the 47th minute, Oršić missed a shot on goal. Benfica started to press three minutes later, though they were unable to capitalize on their chances. 

Dinamo’s defense continued to be stable, and Benfica was not allowed a real opportunity. It also seemed that Dinamo slowed the game down conscientiously.

In the second minute of added time, Gavranović missed a chance in front of the keeper, and Šitum hit the side netting just seconds later. The game ended 1:0 for Dinamo. 

Thursday’s game was Dinamo’s 15th European match this season. Dinamo will head to Lisbon to play Benfica in the return match. 

With Dinamo’s win, Croatia secured two Champions League spots for the 2020/2021 season. 

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


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