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Pjaca hits hat-trick as Dinamo Zagreb end on a high

GNK Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 Celtic FC
An outstanding performance and three goals by Marko Pjaca ensured the Croatian champions bowed out on a high.

Zoran Mamić's Dinamo Zagreb side edged an entertaining encounter
Zoran Mamić's Dinamo Zagreb side edged an entertaining encounter ©AFP/Getty Images

Seven-goal thriller in Zagreb as Dinamo finish third in Group D
Marko Pjaca, 19, scores a hat-trick – from only three shots on goal
Celtic already through to the last 32 as runners-up to Salzburg
Round of 32 draw takes place in Nyon at 13.00CET on 15 December

GNK Dinamo Zagreb exited the UEFA Europa League on a high by beating a Celtic FC side already assured of qualification from Group D into the round of 32.

Marko Pjaca was the hero for the home side, breaking the deadlock early on and then restoring parity after Celtic had made it 2-1. Marcelo Brozović put Dinamo Zagreb back in front and the 19-year-old duly completed his hat-trick to double the deficit, before a few nervous moments following Josip Pivarić's late own goal.

Buoyed by the crowd at Stadion Maksimir, the hosts dominated the early exchanges and forged ahead when Pjaca tucked smartly into the bottom right-hand corner on 14 minutes. However, despite that fine start, Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper Eduardo was soon picking the ball out of his net twice in quick succession.

Celtic levelled when Virgil Van Dijk's free-kick ballooned up off the wall and Kris Commons reacted quickest to head home. Seven minutes later, Commons hit the crossbar with a set piece of his own, allowing Stefan Šćepović to fire in the rebound expertly on the turn.

The hosts were back in the match before the break, Pjaca finding the net with the aid of a deflection off Adam Matthews that wrong-footed Craig Gordon. The match then swung irrevocably back in the home side's favour amid a blistering start to the second half, with Brozović curling in a beautiful shot from the edge of the area after Gordon had made a series of fine saves.

The stage was set for Pjaca to round off his hat-trick, and he did so courtesy of a stunning strike from range that gave Gordon no chance. Celtic rattled the woodwork late on, and Pivarić unluckily turned into his own net from a cutback by Emilio Izaguirre, but victory was Dinamo Zagreb's.

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