Dinamo Zagreb is only 90 minutes away from entering the most prestigious sports tournament in the world…
A last-minute goal put Dinamo over Albanian side Skenderbeu Korce with a score of 2-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff round.
Josip Pivarić was the hero for Dinamo with his goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time.
Ante Ćorić, who entered the game in the 61st minute, was the playmaker behind Pivarić’s goal.
Ćorić fed the ball to Pivarić who used his chest to bring it down and let off a stunning shot from 18 yards into the corner of the goal to take the final 2-1 lead after first being down 1-0.
Dinamo tied the match at one goal a piece at the 66th minute with a goal from El Arbi Hillel Soudani after being down 1-0 for nearly 30 minutes. Some clever play led to Soudani’s goal and gave the Modri the momentum and will needed to keep them alive.
Though, it was a rough first half for the Modri who at first seemed to play with the lackluster desire they have been playing with all throughout this tournament.
Despite owning the bulk of the possession as well as the scoring chances, Dinamo’s finishing leaves something to be desired.
Dinamo’s defense at times also looked lost, and a surprising starting lineup was without Angelo Henriquez who was replaced by Armin Hodzić.
Inconsistency by coach Zoran Mamić may be to blame for Dinamo’s discordance in the previous matches.
Mamić has used four different lineups for the five Champions League matches Dinamo has played this season. All matches with the exception of today’s featured Henriquez in the starting line up.
Furhter more, Mamić has used six different line ups in the six league matches so far this season, further adding possible confusion to players.
Several chances were created by Dinamo in the first half including Soudani’s prime chance from in front of the goal, but goalkeeper Orges Shehi was there to make the strong save.
In fact, 12 chances were seen by the 70th minute, with only Soudani’s effort in the 66th minute making its way on the scoresheet until the end of the match.
“We played well and we have many reasons to be pleased. Maybe the only regret we can have is we had so many opportunities but were unable to score more goals, but we achieved what we came for, and it’s a victory,” Soudani said in an interview after the match.
Skenderbeu took advantage of the scoring chances they had early on by scoring in the 33rd minute with a stunning free kick by Bledi Shkembi.
Paulo Machado pulled Shkembi down just on top of the box and was issued a yellow card.
The ensuing free kick was an impressive one and dipped over the wall into the side netting, leaving Eduardo stunned and angry at his defensive wall.
Pivarić was the defender at the far side of the wall where the ball sailed over uncontested. It seems that Pivarić could have saved the goal by following his fellow defenders lead and jumping, but was tied up with an opponent.
But it was Pivarić who redeemed himself, and it was Pivarić who was crowned hero in Albania.
Dinamo will take the 2-1 aggregate lead back to Zagreb and wait for the Albanians to join for the next match on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
“I expect an even better game in Zagreb and this game will be very serious,” coach Zoran Mamić was quoted after the match. “Skenderbeu is a solid and well crafted team that can be extremely dangerous. We have to be even stronger in Maksimir because it is a game worthy of the Champions League.”