Preview: HNK Rijeka vs. Lille

Preview: HNK Rijeka vs. Lille

French side Lille hold a 2-1 lead over Croatian outfit HNK Rijeka ahead of their Europa Conference League playoff second leg at Stadion Rujevica on Thursday.

Lille endured a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Lorient on Sunday, while Rijeka suffered a 2-1 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb last time out.

There is no hiding the fact that Rijeka were dominated by Lille throughout the first leg, as the French side racked up 19 shots while enjoying 79% of the ball, but the hosts left it late to secure a narrow advantage at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

In fact, Marco Pasalic gave Rijeka the lead midway through the first half before Edon Zhegrova equalised on the stroke of half time, with Leny Yoro coming off the bench to score an 89th-minute winner, breaking the hearts of the travelling supporters.

Pasalic netted his second goal in as many games as Rijeka’s Whites lost 2-1 at Dinamo Zagreb on Sunday, although Zeljko Sopic’s men were dominated once again, seeing just 30% possession while facing a barrage of 15 shots in the Croatian capital.

Rijeka have already come through two qualifying rounds to reach the Europa Conference League playoffs, dispatching Kosovan club Dukagjini and Faroese outfit B36 Torshavn, with seven wins coming in their 10 outings across all competitions this term.

Lille may have dominated the first leg on home soil, but they were humiliated by Lorient last time out, as Les Merlus crushed Les Dogues 4-1 at the Stade du Moustoir to end the visitors’ unbeaten start to the season.

Despite registering 65% possession and 18 shots, Lille found themselves 2-0 down inside 10 minutes and failed to recover from the early hitch, as Jonathan David’s 55th-minute strike was swiftly cancelled out by goals from Romain Faivre and Vincent Le Goff.

Paulo Fonseca’s side kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Nice before defeating Nantes 2-0, with last week’s victory over Rijeka extending the club’s unbeaten streak to three games, but the 2020-21 Ligue 1 champions suffered a disappointing setback on Sunday.

Having controlled much of the first leg, Lille will be hopeful of completing the job in Croatia, but they cannot afford to rest on their laurels, especially
after conceding four goals last time out.

HNK Rijeka Europa Conference League form:

HNK Rijeka form (all competitions):

Lille Europa Conference League form:

Lille form (all competitions):

We say: HNK Rijeka 1-1 Lille
Carrying a 2-1 advantage into the second leg, Lille will likely be happy to sit back and defend their lead on Thursday, even if it means advancing after a hard-fought draw in Croatia.

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