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Competitions > Leagues > Hrvatski Telekom First Division

Year in review

Rijeka's historic
season, commendable
European performance

Rijeka's historic season, commendable European performance
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Domestic 2016/2017 season will be remembered by Rijeka celebrating the league title, the first in Croatian history.

Under the leadership of Slovenian coach Matjaž Kek, Rijeka won on 27 occasions, alongside seven draws and two defeats late in the season - enough to top defending champions Dinamo by two points and to end their trophy streak. 

Bottom-placed RNK Split was relegated, while the ninth-placed Cibalia managed to avoid relegation through play-off matches against Gorica. Second Division champions Rudeš secured their debut promotion and joined the top tier.

Rijeka's cherry on top was the Croatian Cup success, including the victory in the Varaždin final over Dinamo. The Kvarner side won 3:1, and then embarked on the Champions League adventure.

In the qualifying rounds, Rijeka overcame The New Saints of Wales, followed by away goals triumph against Austrian champions RB Salzburg. Greek champions Olympiakos were too high an obstacle on the road towards group stage, but Rijeka continued in the Europa League. Finishing third, behind AC Milan and AEK Athens, and ahead of Austria Vienna, the farewell home victory over Italian giants was a special day for Croatian champions.

Dinamo Zagreb successfully took on Norway representatives Odd in the Europa League third qualifying round, only to be knocked out by Albanian side Skenderbeu. Hajduk Split eliminated Levski Sofia of Bulgaria and Brondby of Denmark, with the English powerhouse Everton ending their group stage hopes. The impressive run of Osijek included UE Santa Coloma of Andorra, Luzern of Switzerland, and famous Dutch PSV, while Austria Vienna clash proved costly.

Four Croatian clubs in the play-off round of UEFA competitions were an exciting achievement, said Croatian Football Federation president Davor Šuker:

"This is a brilliant outcome, a result to remember! We really have to be proud of this success. Everybody deserves praise, from the players to the club management - well done to everyone who gave a contribution. We have witnessed Croatians' love of football, and how much their club's success means to them. Moreover, this was a confirmation of the Croatian clubs' quality".

In the Croatian Women's First Division, ŽNK Osijek continued the magnificent streak with 11th consecutive title, 21st in total, recording all 18 wins and unbelievable goal-difference of 157:2, leaving Agram at second and Split at third place. Mateja Andrić was the top goalscorer with 39 goals. ŽNK Osijek won the double in the Cup final against Trnava Goričan, and won second place in the Women's Champions League qualifying group in August, below Stjarnan of Iceland.

Nacional Zagreb won the domestic futsal double, and repeated European success in autumn, reaching the UEFA Futsal Cup Elite Round, a place among the best 16 continental teams. Nacional performed excellently once again, including a victory over former European champions, Dina Moskva.

Croatian domestic competitions, First Division and Croatian Cup, have celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2017. Since 1992, Dinamo has won 18 league titles, Hajduk six, while Zagreb and Rijeka won one each. Cup trophy was lifted by Dinamo (14), Hajduk (6), Rijeka (4), Osijek (1), and Inter (1).

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