Due to the first round of the KNVB Beker affecting all teams in the top flight of Dutch football during the past week, the seventh round of play in the Eredivisie got belatedly underway on Saturday evening at the Kyocera Stadion in The Hague where ADO Den Haag played host to Heerenveen writes Steven Davies.
Despite contrasting fortunes of late in the league, ADO having lost their last two fixtures while Heerenveen arrived in The Hague on the back of three straight victories, both sides enjoyed cup success in midweek, in spite of both having been taken to extra time – Jurgen Streppel’s men eventually blew away the challenge of second tier upstarts, De Graafschap, while Zeljko Petrovic’s side were taken to penalties by fellow Eredivisie side, NEC Nijmegen – the men from The Hague eventually prevailing to book their place in the second round of the competition where they will face Eerste Divisie opposition in the form of SC Telstar while Heerenveen will lock horns with another second tier outfit – FC Eindhoven.
Despite the exertions of mid-week the visitors appeared the sharper of the two from the off and took the lead when Wilfried Kanon turned the ball into his own net following a corner from the left with 26 minutes gone in the first half.
The extra effort of that spot kick success over NEC would become more apparent as the game entered the final quarter of an hour and it came as little surprise when the visitors extended their lead through Arber Zeneli with eleven minutes remaining before Henk Veerman received the ball from Sam Larsson on the edge of the area before unleashing a low drive to seal the Friesland outfit’s fifth win on the bounce in all competitions.
Elsewhere, despite both sides having found goals a-plenty as they progressed into the second round from their KNVB Beker ties at the expense of Tweede Divisie outfit, Excelsior Maassluis and fourth tier, VV Capelle respectively, the visit of John Stegeman’s Heracles to Ernest Faber’s, Groningen ended in stalemate with both sides guilty of squandering a multitude of chances in front of goal.
Ajax coach, Peter Bosz had rang the changes for de Godenzonen’s mid-week cup obliteration of Willem II and predictably made just as many again as the Amsterdam giants returned to Eredivisie action when they entertained bottom placed PEC Zwolle on Saturday evening.
The hosts came into this encounter on the back of five straight victories which, despite being somewhat unconvincing at times, had served to silence those who had doubted Bosz’s ability in the wake of his succession of Frank de Boer in the summer.
For the visitors, despite having progressed into the second round of the KNVB Beker in mid-week at the expense of fourth tier outfit, DVS ’33, two points from their opening six games saw the 2014 cup winners enter this match rock bottom with the knowledge that a Ron Jans’ coached team had never won at the Amsterdam ArenA.
With all that being said, it came as a shock when, with only four minutes on the clock, Wout Brama found sufficient time and space at the edge of the home side’s area to unleash a low drive that deceived Andre Onana in the Ajax net and gave Ron Jans’ side the lead.
Yet, any thoughts of unwanted records being broken were quickly dispelled as, just four minutes later, a Hakim Ziyech corner was flicked on by skipper, Davy Klaassen to Columbian centre half, Davinson Sanchez who, having found himself unmarked at the back post, headed the ball past Micky van der Hart in the Zwolle net.
Ajax, who entertains Standard Liège in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday, continued to pile on the pressure throughout the first half and it was another Ziyech corner that provided a perfect ball for Sanchez to head in his and Ajax’s second in the 38th minute.
Any thoughts of a comeback were dispelled early in the second period when Ziyech found Kasper Dolberg with a pinpoint pass from half way – the Swede slotting the ball past an exposed van der Hart to put the home side three up in the 55th minute.
Three became four just short of the hour mark as Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore cut in from the right (where he looked far more comfortable) and ghosted past two would-be defenders before smashing the ball past the flailing van der Hart.
The home side weren’t finished yet – Dolberg turning Ted van de Pavert inside out before unleashing a blistering strike from the edge of the area which crashed against the underside of the bar and (having been confirmed by goal-line technology) bounced behind the line to round off a dominant display for Peter Bosz’s men.
The first of Saturday evening’s late kick-off’s took place at the AFAS Stadion in Alkmaar where AZ – fresh from a routine cup win at Tweede Divisie outfit, Lienden and with one eye on a UEFA Europa League trip to Russia to face Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday, entertained Go Ahead Eagles who themselves tasted cup success – beating Derde Divisie side, Dongen 3-1 on Wednesday evening to book their place in the second round of the competition where they will now face fifth tier outfit, Jodan Boys.
The Eagles’ cup success came as a welcome distraction for Hans de Koning’s side who have found the step up from the second tier to be a difficult one – coming into the game with just one win and four points from their opening six games and the visitors endured a difficult first period in Alkmaar – weathering wave upon wave of attacks from their hosts.
But, like their visit to Arnhem a week earlier, a penalty was to be their undoing – Ridgeciano Haps stepping in from the right and surging into the Eagles’ area only to have his progress abruptly ended by Lars Lambooij – Wout Weghorst sending Theo Zwarthoed to wrong way from the resultant spot kick.
The visitors began the brighter in the second half but had the wind taken from their sails when Weghorst latched onto a cross from Iliass Bel Hassani to beat Zwarthoed from close range.
Despite being two goals down away from home to a side who have UEFA Europa League commitments on Thursday evening, the Eagles were actually galvanised by their host’s second – skipper, Sander Duits reducing the arrears with a howitzer from well outside the area on 66 minutes.
And, just when it seemed that the game was over, a Randy Wolters cross from the left found the head of emergency striker, Kenny Teijsse whose header was flapped at by AZ ‘keeper, Sergio Rochet into the path of substitute, Sam Hendriks who gleefully snatched an unlikely point for the visitors from the jaws of defeat with just three minutes remaining.
At the same time, Excelsior played host to reigning Eredivisie champions, PSV Eindhoven – both teams fresh from progressing into the second round of the KNVB Beker, having dispatched Barendrecht and Roda JC respectively in mid-week.
Philip Cocu’s men had a forthcoming trip to Russia on their minds ahead of their UEFA Champions League match with the side that eliminated Ajax from the competition, FC Rostov on Wednesday and arrived in Rotterdam with a point to prove after slipping up to Excelsior’s near neighbours, Feyenoord in last Sunday’s top of the table clash in Eindhoven.
Predictably then, it was the visitors who were out of the blocks the quickest – Luciano Narsingh playing a nice give and go with Bart Ramselaar inside the Excelsior area before poking the ball past Tom Muyters to give the reigning champions the lead on 21 minutes.
What wasn’t on the script was Excelsior grabbing an equaliser just four minutes later – Jetro Willems being harshly adjudged to have brought down Kevin Vermeulen inside the PSV area by referee, Danny Makkelie who immediately pointed to the spot from which Luigi Bruins made no mistake – sending Jeroen Zoet the wrong way.
Yet, the hosts failed to take their visitors into the break on level terms as, in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half, Luuk de Jong won a free kick from Excelsior defender, Jurgen Mattheij and promptly punished the centre half by heading in the resultant free kick from Andres Guardado from close range.
The game was made safe in the 83rd minute when Davy Propper connected with a Luciano Narsingh cross from the right to force the ball home with a low drive that substitute, Hicham Faik could only turn into his own net on the line.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway with a second stalemate of the weekend – this time coming at the Goffertstadion in Nijmegen where two teams who endured cup exit’s in mid-week at the hands of fellow Eredivisie opposition – NEC and Willem II, cancelled each other out.
Despite having begun the week in disastrous fashion – being hit for five at home by a previously winless Groningen – Erik ten Hag’s FC Utrecht not only managed to find a first win of the season by beating FC Twente in the 1st round of the KNVB Beker in mid-week but also rounded off the week by recording their first Eredivisie victory of the season by dispatching newly promoted Sparta Rotterdam at the Stadion Galgenwaard.
The hosts got off to a flying start – Richairo Zivkovic netting his fourth goal in three games in all competitions with just three minutes on the clock.
However, despite taking such an early lead it took until the final ten minutes and a smart turn and strike from Nacer Barazite to ensure a first league win at the seventh time of asking for ten Hag’s men.
Elsewhere, the side that were eliminated at the hands of Utrecht in the cup in mid-week – FC Twente got back to winning ways at home to Henk Fraser’s Vitesse Arnhem.
The connection with the blue half of Manchester was evident again as Manchester City loanee, Enes Unal latched on to a pinpoint cross from the left by Dejan Trajkovski to put Rene Hake’s side a goal to the good on 16 minutes with his seventh goal in all competitions before fellow City loanee, Bersant Celina made it two after some good work by first, Jari Oosterwijk and then Chinedu Ede on the left five minutes from time to seal all three points for the hosts – a strike in the first minute of added time from Chelsea loanee, Lewis Baker coming too little too late to salvage anything for the visitors.
The seventh round of play was rounded out at De Kuip in Rotterdam where league leaders, Feyenoord, fresh from a patchy performance on Thursday night as they began their defence of the KNVB Beker with victory over second tier outfit, FC Oss, put their 100% record in all competitions this season on the line against struggling Roda JC who came into this encounter off the back of being knocked out of the cup at the hands of PSV and with just one point from their last four league matches – the visitor’s last goal having been scored by Tom van Hyfte in the 91st minute of the Kerkrade outfit’s surprise 2-2 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA on 13th August.
Things would get worse for Yannis Anastasiou’s side after 25 minutes of the first half when a misplaced pass from centre half, Eric Botteghin was mishit by Ard van Peppen into the path of Feyenoord’s Danish marksman, Nicolai Jorgensen, who made no mistake – beating the exposed Roda ‘keeper, Benjamin van Leer from close range for his fifth goal of the season in all competitions.
Given their problems in front of goal, any thoughts the visitors may have harboured of a comeback were dispelled ten minutes before half time when Karim El Ahmadi latched on to a knock down by Jorgensen on the edge of the Roda area and unleashed a shot that took a slight deflection on its way into the back of van Leer’s net.
Feyenoord, who face a tough trip to Turkey to face Dirk Kuyt’s former club, Fenerbahce in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, heaped more misery on their visitors when centre half, Daryl Werker misplaced a headed clearance into the path of Jens Toornstra who, finding himself one on one with van Leer, unselfishly squared for Jorgensen to tap the ball into an empty net.
However, the hosts were not finished quite yet – a cross from the right from Bilal Basacikoglu finding Toornstra unmarked at the back post, whose sliding volley made it four with two minutes remaining.
A minute into stoppage time the hosts capped off a five star performance with a fifth goal – centre half, Terence Kongolo nodding in a Rick Karsdorp cross from the right to seal all three points for the hosts and ensure that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men would end the seventh week of play five points clear atop the Eredivisie standings.
ADO Den Haag 0-3 SC Heerenveen
FC Groningen 0-0 Heracles
Ajax 5-1 PEC Zwolle
AZ Alkmaar 2-2 Go Ahead Eagles
Excelsior 1-3 PSV Eindhoven
NEC Nijmegen 0-0 Willem II
FC Utrecht 2-0 Sparta Rotterdam
FC Twente 2-1 Vitesse Arnhem
Feyenoord 5-0 Roda JC
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