Rijeka and Red Bull Salzburg Draw in First-Leg of Third Qualifying Round of Champions League

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatian champions dominated and missed opportunities in the first half, while the Austrian side completely controlled the match in the second.

In the first match of the third qualifying round of Champions League, Rijeka drew at Red Bull Salzburg (1:1), leaving the fate of the competition to be decided at Rujevica next week, reports Goal.hr on July 26, 2017. 

The first-leg of this qualifying round proved to be quite interesting; while the Croatian champion dominated in the first half, the Austrian side completely dominated in the second. Rijeka was at an advantage with Gavranović’s goal in the first, but things quickly turned when Red Bull’s Hwang equalized in the second. Nonetheless, Matjaž Kek’s team returns home with a positive result, having secured a crucial away goal. 

Here’s a rundown of the match.

Rijeka had their first opportunity in front of the net in the 9th minute where Gorgon struck from a distance. Gavranović, however, struck the ball into the penalty box and missed the goal. Just a few minutes later, Heber’s volley was stopped by Walke, and in the 25th minute, Župarić’s header was also just short of the goal.

Red Bull was impotent during these moments, and Rijeka’s brilliant play on the wings gave them the lead after 30 minutes. After pushing the ball up to the right, Rijeka’s Ristovski ran up the wing and placed a perfect cross to Gavranović who scored a stunning diving header for Rijeka. A celebration was had by more than 3,000 Rijeka fans in Salzburg.

Red Bull threatened Rijeka in the 35th minute with a distance shot from Minamino, but Rijeka’s goalkeeper Sluga was there to defend the blow. Rijeka was still comfortably in the lead at halftime. 

However, at the beginning of the second half, the Austrians quickly equalized with a goal by Hwang. Rijeka lost the ball and Red Bull’s Yabo took advantage, passing a through ball to Hwang who put the ball past Sluga. The game was now tied (1:1).

From that moment on, the next half hour was played by only one team on the pitch, and that was Salzburg. The Austrian club dominated and created opportunities, whereas Rijeka completely struggled to keep possession. Salzburg could have increased their lead after 72 minutes, but Rijeka was lucky that the shot by Yabo went wide of the goal. 

Rijeka’s weak play in the second half means they too failed to find the target. Mišić struck in the 84th minute and Župarić shot from the left, but both failed to see the back of the net. Gorgon was also close, but there was no such luck for the Croatian side. In the very end, Rijeka couldn’t shock the host and settled for a draw. 

Translated from Goal.hr


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