As expected, Sevilla came on top away against the hosting team Dinamo Zagreb in the 3rd leg of Group H, with a 1:0 win.
The hosts were never considered to be a favorite in this match, as they have been only a punching bag for many teams, not only during this Champions league season, but also in the last couple of campaigns as well.
One thing that was different this time, compared to some earlier Dinamo Zagreb’s Champions league campaigns was that in some earlier seasons, they were going into the competition as the best team from the domestic league, with high ambitions to win some points in the Champions league. This season, things look different. Not only do they struggle in the Champions league holding the rock bottom of the group (which was expected regardless), but they are also struggling in the domestic leagues as well, which is something that the home fans are not used to, considering that Dinamo was the title holder in the past season regularly.
Due to a slow start on both fronts, Dinamo Zagreb’s management decided to break the knot with Zlatko Kranjcar and appoint Ivaylo Petev as the new head coach, who has not suffered a defeat in the domestic league in the last two rounds.
On the other side, Jorge Sampaoli, Sevillas coach, knew that his team needs to take the win if they want to take the next step closer to the knockout stage.
The starting lineups of both teams were as following:
Dinamo Zagreb starting lineup: Livakovic; Sosa, Schildenfeld, Sigali, Stojanovic; Antolic, Knezevic, Benkovic, Pavicic; Fernandes, Soudani
FC Sevilla starting lineup: Rico; Mercado, Rami, Pareja, Escudero; Mariano, N’Zonzi, Nasri, Vitolo; Vietto, Vazquez
Sevilla is doing just fine in the domestic league as well, keeping up with the Top teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid), as they are currently ranked 3rd in the domestic league with 17 points out of 8 games.
With such a great from, the visitors came out strong looking for an early goal. They came close in the 11th minute as Mariano fired a perfectly execute volley from just outside the box and tested the young goalkeeper Livakovic, who amazingly saved his goal pulling a brilliant stop.
The visitors had another lovely chance to score in the 23rd minute when Nasri tried his luck from inside the box, but his shot went narrowly outside the goal.
The referee of the match Michael Oliver (England) had a lot of work to do in the first half as both teams were making a lot of harsh starts.
Samir Nasri was very active in the first half, playing on both side of the field and creating chances for himself and his teammates. His effort was awarded in the 37th minute after a nice attack in which Mariano provided him the ball inside the box. Nasri showed a brilliant composure and fired the ball into the bottom right corner putting his team upfront 1:0. The visitors created couple of more scoring chances but the score through the first 45 minutes remained 1:0 for the visitors.
After the halftime, Sevilla continued to dominate the pitch and came very close to increasing their lead in the 59th minute as Luciano Vietto wasted a great chance from inside the box as hit shot was just inches off the left post.
The host finally created some chances in the last 20 minutes. First, Soudani fired a shot from the edge of the box in the 74th minute, but his shot was deflected by one of the defenders and the ball missed the goal only with inches from the right post. Schildenfeld tried his luck in the 75th minutes but his header went over the bar. It was probably Dinamo’s best chance of the match, but unfortunately for the home side the ball went off the mark.
Borna Sosa fired a rocket of a shot from the distance but his shot went just of the mark. It would have been an astonishing goal, if that ball found the back of the net.
Although the score remained 1:0 for the visitors, the fans saw quite few exciting moments on both side, with a noticeable superiority of the visiting team. Despite the fact that their team lost, the home fans saw an optimistic performance, especially in the second half, which could indicate that their team could see some improvement over the upcoming games.
On the other side, Sevilla took what they came for. With a win away in Zagreb, Sevilla has kept close with Juventus and have good chances to qualify for the next round.
After the 3rd leg, here are the standings in Group H:
- Juventus has 7 points
- Sevilla has 7 points
- Lyon has 3 points
- Dinamo Zagreb has 0 points