Tonight’s game will have the PSV fans in a hopeful mood for the upcoming season. Not only does it look like their team will be one step away from the group stages of the Champions League, but the young side that Cocu picked showed a great display of pace, creativity and mature defensive organisation.
From top to the bottom, they impressed. Central defensive pairing Jeffrey Bruma (21) and Karim Rekik (18) kept things tight at the back and protected goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet (22) at all opportunities. Bruma, in the role of leader, organised the backline into a brick wall that the Belgian side could not smash down. The on-loan Rekik showed his awesome strength to shun the massive African strikers Mbaye Leye and Habib Habibou, and remember the Manchester City defender is just 18-years-old.
The right-back position has been a worry for the Eredivisie runners-up over the past few seasons, with past poor performances from Atiba Hutchinson and Stanislav Manolev, in that role tonight was Joshua Brenet, just 19 years of age. The youngster’s hunger and aggression impressed from the opening whistle, and his attacking prowess shone through when his mazy run created the second goal.
When Kevin Strootman, Dries Mertens and Jeremain Lens all left on big money moves, fans must have been wondering where the replacements and the goals were going to come from. Tonight proved that maybe PSV may need some help finishing chances, but they certainly do not need any support in creating them. The youngest player on the pitch, Zakaria Bakkali (pictured above), 17, was frightening everytime he was in control of the ball. As was 19-year-old left winger Memphis Depay, when PSV pressed forward, it looked like they were going to find a goal on every attack.
Inside the first minute, the lively Bakkali had the bumper Phillips Stadion crowd out of their seats, as he announced his arrival to the game by crashing a well taken shot onto the bottom of the post. Captain for the night, Georginio Wijnaldum and Slovenian striker Tim Matavz should have also scored all within the first ten minutes. Matavz especially wasted a great chance in a one-on-one contest with Zulte keeper Sammy Bossut.
PSV dominated throughout and had the ball in the net five minutes before the interval when Depay’s header was correecty ruled out for offside latching onto a rebound after Matavz smashed his shot off the bar.
The second period began as the first finished, with PSV looking defensively sound but lacking that composure in front of goal. It was the turn of Wijnaldum to crash a shot against the post, minutes into the second-half and it looked to be one of those nights for the Eindhoven side.
On the hour mark, relief and euphoria buzzed through the stadium, when the search for a new PSV hero was over. The young Depay lashed a picture-perfect 30-yard effort towards the goal, finding the top corner, and the deadlock had well and truly been opened.
Yet another highly-rated prospect entered the fray on 72 minutes, when Jurgen Locadia replaced Matavz up front and within three minutes of being on the pitch, he doubled PSV’s lead. As earlier mentioned, a tricky forward run by full-back Brenet ended with a brilliant cross turned in by the substitute for the 2-0 win.
New signing Florian Jozefzoon came on for Bakkali minutes later, and the young Belgian winger received a well-deserved standing ovation from the Phillips Stadion observers for a tremendous performance.
The game finished 2-0 and Cocu will have some concerns over the finishing on display this evening as his side really should have killed the tie off, but never the less the coach will be happy with the clean sheet, and the fans will be buzzing with enthusiasm for the next crop of future heroes coming through the ranks at the club.
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