Darko Milanič after the final whistle in Mostar
Foto: Drago Wernig
It’s time to analyse the 95 minutes in Mostar with the coach.
“We are taking home what we came for. It’s been a tough game, but we got what we wanted. We wanted to win and we are heading into the return leg with an advantage.”

How did the fact that the home team failed to capitalise on their penalty kick influence the game?
“We anticipated their pressure from the kick-off and one of the decisive moments of the game was when they failed to beat Jasmin from the spot. That calmed them down and gave us a push.”

One of the things that can be said about the match is that our performance prevented any real threats from the home side. Their advantage from playing on the home field was negligible.
“We put in a good game. We changed our defensive mode during the game, because the opponent was neutralising our pressing game with long balls. We didn’t want to give our away-game opponent the opportunity to carry out counter-attacks. We changed things up and after that they were unable to pose any real threat right up to the dying moments of the game, when the effects of having to play with a man down due to Vrhovec’s red card started taking its toll.”

How significant was the impact of this expulsion and how did it change the plan you had in mind for the final phase of the game?
“I was about to substitute Vrhovec with Pihler. Aleks was in his jersey and ready to come on when Blaž got his first yellow card. On top of that, their new player Perišić was causing us problems. That’s why I wanted to send a fresh pair of legs onto the pitch, but the red card changed our plans.”

Any comments on the referees?
“I had the feeling – and jokingly I told this to the assistant referee as well – that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything like this. These things happened maybe back in my playing days, when the home side had an obvious advantage. I had the feeling the home side had an ally in the form of the ref, but even that is no excuse for receiving the red card, that simply shouldn’t have happened.”

Your thoughts on Zrinjski before and after the match?
“After a thorough analysis, we got the chance to get to know them well. They proved to be a good team, which means our work is not over yet. We’re in for another tough encounter. We’ll have to prepare well, but first it’s time for the league opener against Aluminij. We are now completely focused on Saturday. After that we’ll return to Zrinjski. We have enough skill and experience to know we’re not over the finish line yet,” said Darko Milanič after the match against the champions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.