The Croatian representatives in the Europa League advance to the next round!
Both NK Osijek and HNK Hajduk have qualified into the third round of Europa League!
Here’s a rundown of both games.
Levski – Hajduk 1: 2 (0:0)
Hajduk arrived in Sofia with a 1:0 victory from Dugopolje in their pockets and it was clear that all Hajduk needed tonight was one goal to safely secure them into the next round of Europa League. The first half, however, was full of missed opportunities for our Croatian side, and Hajduk fans all over Split were quickly beginning to think that this might just be another missed moment in the wonderful world of football.
If there were a lipa for how many opportunities Hajduk had in the first half, hell, we could all buy a topli sendvič tonight. But after Erceg, Hamza, and Vlašic failed continuously to find the back of the net, we all had a gut feeling that the worst was yet to come. The game, which remained a hairy 0:0 well after the second half began, quickly took a turn for the worse, and Levski surprised an empty stadium with a goal in the 69th minute. The game was now 1:0 for Levski and would head into extra time if Hajduk did not equalize.
Perhaps a tactic to get Hajduk supporters on the edge of their seats (from televisions screens across the country), this unwanted wakeup-call surely kicked some energy into the Hajduk squad and coach Carrillo. Carrillo then put on his thinking cap and pulled out the token joker from the bench, Ohandza, to bring a miracle to the team. Sure enough, an equalizer by Ohandza in the 80th-minute, just two minutes after he entered the match, gave Hajduk every reason to celebrate. Shortly thereafter in the 86th minute, Erceg redeemed himself with a much-needed goal and the game ended 2:1 for Hajduk. This score was more than enough to advance them into the third qualifying round of Europa League.
Hajduk will play against Brondby from Denmark in the next round of Europa League, and perhaps to a stadium of closed fans in Split (more on this soon).
FC Luzern – Osijek 2:1 (1:0)
Osijek had the advantage over Switzerland’s FC Luzern after a 2:0 win from City Park, but after Luzern’s Juric scored from a header in the 19th minute and a free kick in the 62nd minute, Osijek had reason to worry.
In the 72nd minute, however, Osijek’s Ejupi found the back of the net, giving the Croatian side just enough to advance to the third qualifying round of the competition.
Osijek, unfortunately, has been dealt one of the toughest opponents in the third round, facing Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.
The third qualifying round of Europa League will also include Dinamo Zagreb who will face Norwegian’s Odd on Thursday, July 27th.