Narrow 1-0 away wins for FC Twente and FC Utrecht give both teams a great platform to progress in this weekend’s second legs in the Europa League playoffs.
FC Groningen 0
FC Twente 1 (Gutiérrez 22)
FC Twente took a big step towards the second round of the playoffs to qualify for European football, to salvage something from a poor season overall for the Enschede team. Twente finished sixth in the Eredivisie this season and the 1-0 win at FC Groningen on Thursday gives them a great chance of proceeding further on Sunday in the return leg.
With a half empty stadium and the rain pouring down, it was a desolate atmosphere in Groningen and the home crowd had nothing to cheer about after 22 minutes.
After Luc Castaignos and Willem Janssen had missed earlier opportunities, Felipe Gutiérrez made a beautiful, subtle movement to finish home for the only goal of the game, in the 22nd minute from a cross by former Groningen midfielder Dusan Tadic. Castaignos thought he had made it 2-0 late in the second period but it was chalked off for offside by the linesman.
The visitors then kept the upper hand throughout the game and they should have extended the lead through Roberto Rosales and Tadic. The home side were created chances occasionally, but in all fairness Twente goalkeeper Sander Boschker was barely tested.
FC Utrecht 1 (van der Gun 69)
FC Utrecht take home a 1-0 advantage against Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen, whose poor run continues.
It was a lacklustre first-half, as both teams seemed very hesitant to press forward and leave gaps in defence. After having played 69 minutes, the visitors took the lead through a Cedric van der Gun header, the striker meeting a cross from Jacob Mulenga.
Heerenveen pressed for a equaliser but to no avail, and Van Basten’s team will have to find form quickly to keep their European adventure alive when they meet again on Sunday.
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