Rokas Pukstas Scores Winner for Hajduk Split in Croatian League Season Opener

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Rokas Pukstas came up big for Hajduk Split as he was on the spot to score the game-winner for the team in the 2-1 win over rivals Dinamo Zagreb as Croatia’s First League kicked off their new season on Friday night.

The 18-year-old midfielder started for the Bili, completing 84 percent of his passes, winning five duels, and making three tackles in 90-plus minutes of work as the team knocked off the reigning champions in the “Eternal Derby”.

Dinamo was looking to make a good impression among the boisterous fans at Stadion Maksimir as they went on the attack early in the contest. However, the visitors started to get into the game later on and put together some good chances to open the scoring.

The host finally broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when they regained control of the back at midfield and went on the counterattack. Dario Spikic’s cross from the inside the right side of the box found a wide-open Bruno Petkovic to steer home.

Dinamo was on the hunt for more goals in the second half and was rewarded an excellent opportunity to double their lead in the 63rd minute when Jan Mlakar tripped up Sadegh Moharrami, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot for a penalty. Petkovic stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his weak attempt was easily saved by Hajduk Split goalkeeper Ivan Lucic.

The visitors started to work their way once again into the game as the missed penalty gave them a new lease of life. The equalizer would come in the 74th minute when a cross into the area from the left side took a wicked deflection off defender Josip Sutalo, sending the ball skyward. This allowed Split’s forward Marko Livaja to bring down the ball while shielding the goalkeeper and put it in the back of the net from close range.

Both sides pushed for the game-winning goal, but it would be Hajduk Split to get the last word as they found the answer in stoppage time thanks to Pukstas. Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe’s corner kick from the right side would find the young midfielder as he headed the ball home to secure the three points for the visitors.

A positive start for Pukstas and Hajduk Split as they look to dethrone their eternal rivals from the top of the mountain this season.

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Kenya Brown

Born in America, but raised in Europe and Asia, Kenya has loved soccer ever since his parents put a ball at his feet. While covering some of the top U.S. players around Europe, he loves putting the spotlight on players who are based in leagues off the beaten path. He also interviews coaches and other people in the game to gain more insight.

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