Ferencváros will live to rue several spurned opportunites in the first half of their UEFA Champions League 3rd Qualifying round second leg with Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb as they eventually crashed to a heavy 4-0 loss on the night, meaning Sehiy Rebrov’s side drop into the Europa League play-offs courtesy of a 5-1 aggregate defeat.
The match started at an encouragingly energetic pace, at least for the near-capacity 19,365 crowd packed inside the Groupama Aréna. Twice within the first ten minutes, Tokmac Nguen, Fradi’s diminuituve Norwegian winger of Kenyan descent, timed his run behind the visiting defence to perfection but on both occasions, Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic pulled off routine but important saves to preserve his clean sheet.
Concerningly for Rebrov’s team though, Dinamo were also finding joy in the final third and the visitors served notice of their intent when Izet Hajorvic’s low, rasping drive was diverted around home goalkeeper Dénes Dibusz’s near post for another of a series of early corners. Fradi didn’t heed this warning though and fell behind in the 16th minute when impressive Spanish youngster Dani Olmo fed a superb, defence-splitting pass through to Dinamo captain Arijan Ademi, who spun and volleyed high past Dibusz and into the net from a central position ten metres out.
To their credit, Ferencváros refused to buckle at that early body blow and continued to threaten the Dinamo goal, Mikalai Sihnevich’s swerving, right-footed effort in the always destined to stay the wrong side of Livakovic’s left post, at least from a home-team perspective.
Predictably for the champions of a country which reached the FIFA World Cup final only last year, Dinamo always looked capable of breaking through again, for example, when a 25th-minute free-kick routine gave Hajrovic a sight of goal, only for his low shot to roll disappointingly wide of the right post.
Twelve minutes later, danger reared its fearsome head again when the delightful Olmo’s deep free-kick was flicked on towards goal by former Fradi defender Emir Dilaver, the well-positioned Dibusz ultimately gathering the ball comfortably near his left post.
The final two moments of first-half note came from the hosts though, firstly when Oleksandr Zubkov found space down the right channel in which to burst but he failed to cross for a potential tap-in for the arriving Sihnevich and instead was dispossessed when trying to cut inside. Soon after, Dávid Sigér controlled a firm pass inside from Nguen and bent a left-footed shot against the outside of Livakovic’s right post, an effort which proved to be the last action of a thoroughly entertaining first half.
Ferencváros had fashioned numerous opportunities to score so they’d have been both frustrated by their profligacy and encouraged as to what they could achieve if they’d improve in the second half, but unfortunately the tie was wrested away from them within nine minutes of the restart.
A reinvigorated Dinamo flew out of the starting blocks and took doubled their advantage within two minutes, Mislav Orsic surging down the left wing before pulling the ball back almost from the byline for Bruno Petkovic to slot wide of Dibusz’s outstretched right leg and into the left corner of the Fradi goal.
Almost straightaway, Orsic again drove hard at a startled home defence, this time his smart shot drawing a a decent block from Dibusz but the decisive blow was not far away.
Man-of-the-match contender Dani Olmo looked full of purpose as he approached the Fradi penalty area and his wall-pass with Ademi gave him the chance to calmly stroke the ball inside Dibusz’s right post to put Dinamo 3-0 up in the 54th minute.
Rebrov’s men had simply not settled back into the game orbeen first to the ball at all in the second half and even their main danger man was showing signs of tiredness and despondency, Nguen’s next shot on goal proving to be his last touch of the match as his powerful, low drive flew wide of the far left post before he was replaced on the left wing by Hungarian international winger Roland Varga.
The misery continued for the 30-time Hungarian champions as Eldar Civic was dismissed for a second bookable offence in the 67th minute and Dinamo scored their fourth goal eleven minutes from the end of normal time, substitute Lovro Majer’s long-distance daisycutter spilt by Dibusz and fellow replacement Amer Gojak standing ready to place the ball in that bottom-left corner of the goal yet again.
Matters could have worsened even more but Petkovic shovelled a late penalty over the crossbar after home substitute Marcel Heister had been adjudged to have clipped the heels of Orsic.
Ferencváros therefore exit the UEFA Champions League at the 3rd Qualifying round stage and will now drop into the Europa League play-offs where they will face the winner of the tie between Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel and Suduva of Lithuania on 23rd and 30th August.
UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, 2nd leg
Ferencváros (HUN) 0-4 Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) (HT: 0-1)
Dénes Dibusz (GK), Gergő Lovrencsics, Oleksandr Zubkov, Ihor Kharatin, Eldar Čivić, Dávid Sigér, Nikolai Signevich (Boli 84′), Miha Blažič, Lasha Dvali, Michal Škvarka (Heister 71′) Tokmac Nguen (Roland Varga 65′)
Dominik Livaković (GK), Arijan Ademi (Gojak 69′), Dani Olmo (Šitum 84′), Izet Hajrović (Majer 77′), Bruno Petković, Marin Leovac, Nikola Moro, Petar Stojanović, Dino Perić, Emir Dilaver, Mislav Oršić
Red cards: FTC: Civic 67′.