By Elvir Islamovic
HNK Hajduk Split defeated NK Varteks 6-0 on Saturday to clinch the Croatian title on the final day of the season. After the match, Hajduk sports director and interim coach Igor Stimac announced that Varteks coach Miroslav Blazevic would be taking charge of Hajduk next season.
"I am delighted, but I would be happier if we managed to play like this in some other matches this season," Stimac said. "We have won our second championship title in a row and we have confirmed our expectations."
Hajduk shrugged off the disappointment of losing Wednesday's Croatia Cup final to HNK Rijeka by easily collecting the win they needed to seal the title. The celebrations started early as Hajduk roared into a 4-0 first-half lead thanks to goals from Hrvoje Vejic, Bulend Biscevic, Tomislav Busic and Frane Cacic. Krunoslav Lovrek and Niko Kranjcar added two more after the interval to make sure of Hajduk's sixth title since Croatia gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
NK Inter Zaprešic, who went into the final round with an outside chance of winning the league, were forced to settle for second place after being held to a 3-3 draw by Rijeka, who battled back from 3-1 down to earn a point.
NK Zadar have been relegated after failing to pick up the victory they needed in the final round. In fact, their match against NK Dinamo Zagreb on Saturday was called off after only 62 minutes following the dismissal of four Zadar players. Each team must have at least eight players on the pitch for the match to continue, but the result was already beyond doubt when the proceedings were brought to a halt with Dinamo leading 7-0.
There were plenty of goals throughout the league on Saturday as the season ended with a bang. NK Zagreb were convincing 7-1 winners against NK Slaven Belupo in the Championship Play-offs, while in the Relegation Play-offs as well as Dinamo's seven-goal haul, NK Medjimurje and NK Osijek drew 2-2 and NK Kamen Ingrad and NK Pula 1856 drew 1-1. NK Cibalia have been promoted back to the top flight after one season out of the First League.
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