Tuesday, 1 December 2009


After weeks of struggling to close the gap on the teams above them in the relegation zone, Zagreb finally made headway after their 3-1 victory against Zapresic. Igor Stimac's men are now just 3 points off fourth bottom Medimurje and 4 points from 5th bottom NK Zadar. The contribution of Davor Vugrinec has been little short of remarkable in recent weeks and he was once again on target with his 8th goal in his last 8 match and his 10th of the season. Vugrinec's form has also woken up partner Ivan Kristanovic who netted his fourth in six games on 36 minutes. Zapresic's Brazilian striker Dodo pulled one back just before half time. However Vugrinec was once again there to seal the game with the matchwinner in the last 10 minutes of the match. In the week, Zagreb announced the identities of the two North Korean youngsters brought to the club. An Il Bom is captain of the countries Under 17 side, whilst Jong Il Ju also arrives.

Hajduk Split look finally to be making progress up the league after their latest victory over out of form NK Zadar. Edoardo Reja could once again count of Hjorve Vejic and Ivan Strinic and gave a start to youngster Duje Cop who has performed well in recent Cup matches. Mario Ticinovic and Marin Tomasov were also recalled. Hajduk got the start they were looking for when Stjepan Skocibusic put through his own net. Duje Cop got a second before, Antonio Mrsic pulled one back in the second half. Hajduk stay in 6th place, but are just a point behind Slaven Belupo in 5th and Karlovac in 4th. Hajduk did a big favour for Igor Stimac, as NK Zadar are a side who are being chased down by his in form NK Zagreb side.

Karlovac made light work of defeating HNL1's canon fodder Croatia Sesvete to further improve their status in the division. The win keeps them ahead of Hajduk Split and rounds of a outstanding first half of the season as they start their winter break. Karlovac made a great start to the match as Josip Jerneic found the net inside two minutes. Jurica Karabatic extended the lead on 28 minutes, before Zvonko Pamic scored the third from the penalty spot. Karlovac move into fourth place, just a point above Hajduk Split.

Lokomotiva continue to be in a healthy state in HNL1 after their latest win coming this time over relegation strugglers Istra. It was however Istra who took the lead on 7 minutes when Goran Roce netted the opener. Lokomotiva were back level within minutes however through Tomislav Puljic. They then took on the lead just before half time thanks to a Ivan Peko strike which proved to be the matchwinner. Lokomotiva move above Rijeka into 8th place. Istra's situation appears more desperate with several players set to leave in the winter including Tonci Kukoc. Khallilou Traore also looks on his way out of Croatia as he is attracting clubs in Belgium and Russia. Istra are now second from bottom following Zagreb's win on Friday.

Slaven Belupo won a good point which keeps them ahead of Hajduk Split after drawing with Cibalia. Zlatko Dalic's men took the lead just before half time through Hungarian defender Csaba Csizmadia heading in from a free kick. Cibalia got back into the game not long into the second half when defender Petar Tomic met Tomislav Pavlivic cross. Despite chances for Bojan Vrucina and Ivica Baraban it stayed that way for the remainder of the match. The point secured a top three position for Cibalia going into the winter break. Belupo may be active in the transfer depending on the striker Vrucina who with only 5 goals in 17 appearences this season appears to have drop in value.

Rijeka drop down to ninth place after throwing away the lead on two occasions in their draw with Varteks. The game started well for Nenad Gracan's men as Montenegrin international striker Radomir Dalovic scored twice in the first 15 minutes. Robert Puncec reduced the arrears for Varteks before the ageless Miljenko Mumlek struck home from distance. Ramon Fernandez, however found Sandi Krizman to edge Rijeka back in front before half time. Dalovic spurned an opportunity for a hatrick messes up a one on one situation, before Dino Skvorc pounced on 83 minutes to snatch an equaliser for Varteks. Rijeka look certain to enter the transfer market in January. However Varteks have no such opportunities as have struggled to pay their players in recent weeks. The situation is expected to be resolved in the coming months.

This was seen as a clash of two of the strongest teams in the league and Osijek aim to take full advantage of the absence of Sibenik's two best players Mehmed Alispahic and Ermin Zec. Osijek made their breakthrough midway through the first half when Croatian under 21 defender Domogoj Vida struck. Vida was also inspirational in the scoring as he crossed for Josip Barisic to despatch into the back of the net. Subsitute Vedran Nikisic scored the third to wrap up a comprehensive win, which moves Osijek up to fourth place. Tomislav Steinbruckner will be extremely pleased what he has seen from his young side in the first half of the season, which has given the club at lot to look forward to in the near future. Sibenik have also had a fantastic season so far, but will need to find a replacement for Zec as Jusuf Dajic and Ivan Bozic came up slightly short this evening.

Dinamo moved six points clear at the top after coming from behind to defeat Medimurje. Dinamo coach Krunoslav Jurcic had Dejan Lovren, Ivan Tomecak and Tomislav Barbaric absent, but Pedro Morales was back after a short lay off. Dominik Picak made his first start in the Dinamo goal, whilst Greek striker Dmitrios Papadopoulos started alongside Miroslav Slepicka. Despite early chances for Dinamo, it was the Cakovec club that took the lead through marksman Marian Vuka. Jurcic responded by withdrawing Papadopoulos for Andrej Kramaric at half time and Dinamo were quickly back on level terms thanks to top scorer Pedro Morales. Kramaric then set up Slepicka to put Dinamo into the lead on 55 minutes, before scoring himself to make it 3-1. The youngster grabbed his second, his ninth of the season in all competitions on 80 minutes. Such form may encourage Dinamo to part with Mandzukic, should Wolfsburg move for the striker as replacement for Edin Dzeko. Dinamo have just one match to play in the Europa Liga against Timosoara before going off to their winter break.

13. Pedro Morales (Dinamo)
11. Davor Vugrinec (Zagreb)
8. Mario Mandzukic (Dinamo), Ermin Zec (Sibenik), Nino Bule (Lokomotiva)
7. Senijad Ibricic (Hajduk), Bojan Golubovic (Medimurje), Asim Sehic (Istra), Milan Badelj (Dinamo)