Hajduk Split vs Everton – Thursday 20:00 BT/21:00 CET – Stadion Poljud, Split.
They were ugly scenes at Goodison Park. Thousands of Hajduk fans had packed into the away end of the stadium, and in the 33rd minute, the play had to be suspended when Hajduk fans surged towards the pitch in an attempted pitch invasion.
The disturbances were kicked off when Michael Keane scored the opening goal for Everton in the first half. Packed into the Bullens Road stand at Goodison Park they started hurling objects at the adjacent Park End and attempted to break out of their enclosure. As a result, the game had to be held for five minutes and was at one point even close to being called off.
Sadly this was not the first time that Hajduk supporters were involved in crowd disturbances. Croatia’s fan scene continues to be marred by instances involving crowd trouble racism and violence. Hajduk’s Torcida fan group is especially notorious. But it would be too simple to break everything down into black and white. The truth is that the split between fan groups and authorities in Croatia stems from corruption within the Croatian football federation and the dominance of public officials from Dinamo Zagreb.
Those disturbances have often been carried abroad by Croatian fans being involved in crowd violence at the 2016 European Championships. Club competitions have also not been free of violence, and it now appears that even in the high-security stadiums in England the crowd trouble could not be controlled. That said from first-hand accounts it becomes pretty clear that the staff at Goodison Park had done their best in curbing the violence and even allowing the game to finish.
As a result of the crowd trouble, however, it is now likely that the second leg will be played in an empty Poljud Stadium in Split. While this would be a consequential punishment, it would also be a shame for travelling Everton supporters as the Poljud is perhaps one of the most beautiful stadiums in Europe.
On the pitch, the 2-0 victory by the Toffees all but secures Everton, a passage to the group stage. Everton simply proved a class above Hajduk, who lack the squad depth to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
Hajduk Split vs Everton – Players to look out for:
Nikola Vlasić #8 Hajduk Split
Croatian football is known for producing talented midfielders, and the 19-year-old Nikola Vlasić could be the next in line. Playing right behind a true striker Vlasić is crucial in Hajduk Split’s 4-3-2-1 formation by supporting the centre-forward, but also by tracking back. Vlasić has already scored two goals and one assist in five 1.HNL games this season and featured for the Croatian national team in May.
Wayne Rooney #10 Everton
It was the much-celebrated return of the lost son this summer. Wayne Rooney spent his entire youth career at Everton before playing the majority of senior career at Manchester United. Forced out by Jose Mourinho at Manchester United Rooney decided it was time to return home and the script could not have been set up any better as Rooney scored the winner against Stoke City on matchday 1 of the English Premier League.
Hajduk Split vs Everton – Match Stats
- The game at Goodison was the first ever encounter between the two sides.
- The defeat against Everton was Hajduk’s first defeat in five matches.
- Everton beat Ružomberok from Slovakia to get to this stage of the competition.
- Hajduk eliminated Danish side Brøndby in the previous round.
Prediction: Hajduk Split vs Everton 0-2
Everton vs Hajduk Split – Possible Lineups
Letica – Fomitschow, Nizic, Rosa, Juranovic – Barry, Radosevic, Gentsoglou – Pesic, Vlasic – Ohandza
Coach: Joan Carrillo
Pickford – Keane, Jagielka, Williams – Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Calvert-Lewin – Rooney, Klaassen – Ramirez
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.