Week five is in the books and Steven Davies is on hand with a description of the action in this weekend’s Eredivisie.
Following the international break, the Eredivisie returned for the fifth week of play and with no Friday fixture thanks to the aforementioned international commitments of many of the league’s top players, the action instead began on Saturday evening at the AFAS Stadion where sixth place, AZ welcomed a resurgent Willem II to Alkmaar.
Things have been looking up of late for the men from Tilburg – Erwin van de Looi’s men having taken four points from a possible six to arrest what had previously been a wretched start to the campaign. However, despite having one eye on their UEFA Europa League meeting with Irish minnows, Dundalk on Thursday, the hosts easily dispatched their visitors – Iranian international, Alireza Jahanbakhsh opening the scoring on 19 minutes with a thunderous half volley from the edge of the area before Levi Garcia capitalised on an errant pass out of the visitor’s defence to seal all three points in the 91st.
Simultaneously, two of this season’s surprising underachievers came head to head at MAC3PARK Stadion where Ron Jans, PEC Zwolle – with just one point from a possible twelve, met Erik ten Hag’s, FC Utrecht – who themselves were just one point better off coming into this encounter.
Despite having lost their last three games – shipping in eight goals and scoring none in the process, it was the hosts who struck first – Kingsley Ehizibue putting Zwolle ahead with 12 minutes on the clock following a goalmouth scramble.
With the transfer window now closed until January, one of the most remarkable stories appears to be the fact that a transfer once again failed to materialise for Utrecht’s talismanic French striker, Sebastien Haller and the inspirational marksman was on hand once more to salvage a point for the visitors – converting a penalty in the 91st minute following the dismissal of Feyenoord loanee, Calvin Verdonk who saw red for the hosts after bringing down Giovanni Troupee in the box.
Reigning title holders, PSV Eindhoven prepared up for their upcoming UEFA Champions League encounter with Atletico Madrid by hitting NEC Nijmegen for four at the Goffertstadion – strikes from Bart Ramselaar and Gaston Pereiro saw the visitors two goals up with ten minutes gone before a perfectly placed header from full back, Joshua Brenet and a simple finish for Luuk de Jong after Davy Propper had put the Dutch international in the clear, ended the game as a meaningful contest with just 24 minutes on the clock.
Despite having made a remarkable start to the season – recording two wins from their opening two matches, Mitchell van der Gaag’s, Excelsior came into Saturday night’s encounter with Heracles off the back of two straight defeats and wasted little time dismantling John Stegeman’s visitors at the Stadion Woudestein – Khalid Karami putting the home side ahead with less than a minute on the clock. The visitors were still reeling when Excelsior skipper, Ryan Koolwijk smashed in a cracker from just outside the area to double the home side’s advantage with 19 minutes gone before Fredy Ribeiro cut in from the right and curled in a third from the edge of the area to effectively end the game as any sort of contest with just 22 minutes having elapsed. Vincent Vermeij pulled one back for the visitors on 66 minutes with a close range tap in but his strike failed to galvanise the Almelo outfit who slumped to their second defeat in three matches.
FC Twente began the post-Hakim Ziyech era with defeat in Friesland – going down by three goals to one at the hands of Jurgen Streppel’s, Heerenveen.
Iranian international, Reza Ghoochannejhad opened the scoring for the home side just after the half hour mark with a powerful header before Swede, Sam Larsson doubled the host’s advantage with 66 minutes on the clock with a neat side-footed finish from the edge of the area. The score line was perhaps a little harsh on Rene Hake’s men who had threatened Erwin Mulder’s goal on numerous occasions and the visitors eventually found their way back into the game through a strike from Manchester City loanee, Bersant Celina with twelve minutes to go.
However, the dismissal of Hidde ter Avest – who saw red from referee, Jochem Kamphuis after receiving his second yellow card of the match in the 90th minute for a reckless two footed lunge, dispelled any hopes the men from Enschede had of taking anything from their visit to the Abe Lenstra Stadion and Ghoochannejhad sealed all three points for the hosts in the second minute of added time with his third goal of the season.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action began with an intriguing contest at De Kuip where two unbeaten sides came face to face. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s, Feyenoord came into the fifth round of matches off the back of four straight victories and with one eye on a mouth-watering UEFA Europa League encounter with Manchester United on Thursday, while Zeljko Petrovic’s, ADO Den Haag arrived in Rotterdam with an unbeaten record of their own to defend.
Having squandered a slew of chances to open the scoring the home side finally made the break through just after the half hour mark as Feyenoord landed a swift one-two punch that left their visitors from The Hague reeling – Dirk Kuyt opening the scoring on 33 minutes at the second time of asking after ADO ‘keeper, Ernestas Setkus had denied his initial effort before a neat through ball from Jens Toornstra found Danish marksman, Nicolai Jorgensen who beat the visitor’s offside trap to double the Rotterdam giant’s advantage just a minute later with his third goal of the season.
Substitute, Ludcinio Marengo did briefly bring the visitors back into the game with four minutes remaining – volleying the ball past Feyenoord glovesman, Brad Jones after the Australian stopper had denied his initial header from point blank range, but any thoughts ADO’s travelling band of supporters may have harboured of their side stealing a point were quickly dashed when Karim El Ahmadi added a third in the third minute of stoppage time to put van Bronckhorst’s side two points clear atop the Eredivisie standings to leave things perfectly poised ahead of a top of the table clash with PSV in Eindhoven next Sunday.
Despite having collected their first point of the season at the fourth time of asking just prior to the international break, Groningen welcomed newly promoted Sparta Rotterdam to the Noordlease Stadion propping up the table and Ernest Faber’s men set about this crunch game with an air of purpose early on – Mimoun Mahi giving the hosts the lead with just 12 minutes on the clock.
However, Alex Pastoor’s side have been somewhat of a surprise package this season and came into this game five points better off than their more illustrious hosts, favouring an open and attacking brand of football that has won many plaudits since their return to the top table of Dutch football and, given the unease both on and off the field for all associated with Groningen, it was little surprise when the visitors drew level through Ajax loanee, Zakaria El Azzouzi – who finished a swift Sparta counter attack just eight minutes later to leave honours even.
While the draw lifts Groningen off the bottom of the table at the expense of PEC Zwolle on goal difference, it does little to alleviate the mounting pressure on the shoulders of Groningen’s under-fire coach, Ernest Faber whose side now face a crucial trip to another club in search of their first victory of the season – FC Utrecht, on Friday.
At the same time, a club in a similar plight – newly promoted Go Ahead Eagles, welcomed Roda JC to De Adelaarshorst in search of their first win since returning to the Dutch top flight at the fifth time of asking.
The home side enjoyed a busy week of transfer activity prior to the international break – the most significant addition being the return of Jarchinio Antonia who made his re-debut for the Eagles after having his contract at Groningen terminated.
Despite having been competitive in each of their four Eredivisie matches thus far, a lack of pace at the back and killer instinct in front of goal have cost Hans de Koning’s side time and time again and both of these shortcomings were once again in evidence on Sunday afternoon, but when Welshman, Simon Church was adjudged to have handled a goal-bound header from Sander Duits following a Marcel Ritzmaier cross from the right, the home side must have felt like history was repeating itself when referee, Ed Janssen pointed to the spot. Yet, following his high profile miss from the spot against Ajax prior to the international break, last season’s goal machine, Leon de Kogel – who hit the back of the net on 27 occasions last season but has yet to do so at Eredivisie level for the Eagles, stepped aside allowing Kevin Brands to send Roda ‘keeper, Benjamin van Leer the wrong way and put the home side one nil up.
The game was played in an open manner and chances came and went at both ends of the field until substitute, Darren Maatsen, killed a length of the field clearance by home ‘keeper, Theo Zwarthoed stone dead at the edge of the Roda area before flashing the ball past a flailing van Leer to secure the home side’s first win since their return to the Eredvisie.
The fifth round of Eredivisie action was concluded at the Amsterdam ArenA where Ajax, who came into their encounter with Vitesse Arnhem without a home victory in 2016/17, gave a debut to big money signing, Hakim Ziyech in the hope of kick-starting their title challenge following an unconvincing opening to the Peter Bosz era in Amsterdam.
The hosts, who will make the long trip to Greece for a UEFA Europa League encounter with Panathinaikos on Thursday, began the game brightly – peppering Eloy Room’s goal with attempts that had the Vitesse ‘keeper at full stretch on a number of occasions.
But it wasn’t until the 55th minute that the deadlock was broken. Having been awarded a free kick on the left following a foul on skipper, Davy Klaassen, Moroccan international, Ziyech promptly flashed a tantalising ball across the face of goal for a diving Nick Viergever to head past Eloy Room from close range and give de Godenzonen what, in the end, proved to be the only goal of the game and any hopes that Henk Fraser’s side had of taking something from a contest in which they had enjoyed their fair share of opportunities were effectively extinguished when Arnold Kruiswijk received his marching orders after collecting his second yellow card of the match in the 67th minute following a reckless challenge on Joel Veltman.
AZ Alkmaar 2-0 Willem II
PEC Zwolle 1-1 FC Utrecht
NEC Nijmegen 0-4 PSV Eindhoven
Excelsior 3-1 Heracles
SC Heerenveen 3-1 FC Twente
Feyenoord 3-1 ADO Den Haag
FC Groningen 1-1 Sparta Rotterdam
Go Ahead Eagles 2-0 Roda JC Kerkrade
AFC Ajax 1-0 Vitesse Arnhem
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