EREDIVISIE REPORT: Week Fourteen

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The fourteenth round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at De Adelaarshorst in Deventer where Willem II surprisingly emerged victorious over a lacklustre Go Ahead Eagles.

Go Ahead Eagles secured an immediate return to the top flight of Dutch football via the end of season promotion/ relegation playoffs last term while their visitors from Tilburg had preserved their Eredivisie status in the same fashion and, with both sides coming into this encounter with eleven points from their opening thirteen matches and occupying 17th and 16th respectively in the standings (the promotion/ relegation playoff places) this was unsurprisingly billed as a true relegation six-pointer.

The contest itself proved to be every bit as edgy as anticipated but, despite a vociferous home backing, the Eagles were out of sorts – allowing Erwin van de Looi’s side to came away with a priceless three points thanks to a lone strike from Feyenoord loanee, Jari Schuurman two minutes into the second half – the 19-year-old springing the host’s offside trap before beating Theo Zwarthoed at the second attempt to mark his full debut for the Tilburg-based outfit with his first goal in a Willem II jersey.

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Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the GelreDome where struggling Excelsior came away from their encounter with Vitesse Arnhem with a well-deserved point.

In fact, Mitchell van der Gaag’s men will feel hard done by to have left Arnhem with just a point when all three seemed to be heading back to Rotterdam with the visitors when a first half double from Hicham Faik saw Excelsior two goals to the good with just fourteen minutes on the clock.

However, despite not having tasted victory in the Eredivisie since a home win over Groningen on 1st October, the hosts got themselves back into the contest on 25 minutes courtesy of a Ricky van Wolfswinkel spot-kick before Moroccan midfielder, Adnane Tighadouini completed the comeback for Henk Fraser’s side in the 73rd minute to secure the home side’s fourth draw in their last six league games.

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Having dropped points in each of their last two Eredivisie matches and seeing their hopes of participation in any form of continental competition hanging by a thread following defeat in Madrid on Wednesday evening, reigning champions, PSV Eindhoven came into the fourteenth round of fixtures six points off the pace set by the leaders, Feyenoord and desperately in need of a win when they played host to a struggling ADO Den Haag at the Philips Stadion on Saturday evening.

Phillip Cocu’s men welcomed an ADO side who, having made a spectacular start to the campaign that saw the men from The Hague win their opening three games on the bounce, had turned losing into an art form ever since – Zeljko Petrovic’s side arriving in Eindhoven with just one win in their last ten Eredivisie matches having tasted defeat in seven of those outings.

It didn’t take the hosts long to put both their chequered recent form and their struggling visitors in their place – Gaston Pereiro giving PSV the lead from the spot after being felled by ADO full back, Tyronne Ebuehi with just twelve minutes on the clock before an own goal from the unlucky, Tom Beugelsdijk and Luuk de Jong’s fourth league goal of the season saw the game over as a contest just ten minutes into the second half despite Beugelsdijk going some way to making amends by converting from the spot for the visitors just short of the hour mark after Jeroen Zoet had sent Gervane Kastaneer tumbling in the box. The Dutch international stopper was somewhat lucky to remain on the field of play – only receiving a yellow card from referee, Bjorn Kuipers despite being the host’s last line of defence.

Following a wretched start to the Ernest Faber era in Groningen which saw his new side lose their opening three matches of the campaign and fail to record a win anywhere until a comprehensive away day pummelling of a hapless FC Utrecht on 16th September, things have been looking up of late – Faber’s men having taken four points from their last two games prior to their meeting with PEC Zwolle on Saturday evening at the MAC3PARK Stadion.

Ron Jans’ side had endured a similarly difficult opening to the campaign – the 2014 KNVB Beker winner’s first league victory not arriving until a narrow home success over ADO Den Haag on 30th September. However, like Groningen, things had been gradually looking up of late with the defeat at De Kuip last time out the host’s only setback in their last seven outings in all competitions.

Yet, it was the away side who not only came away with all three points but remarkably put the home side to the sword by hitting their hosts for four without reply – Simon Tibbling putting Ernest Faber’s men into the ascendancy in the first minute of what would ultimately prove to be a one-sided contest before former Excelsior marksman, Tom van Weert added a second for the visitors six minutes before the break.

A first league goal of the season from 22-year-old Slovakian, Albert Rusnak ended the match as a meaningful contest in the 77th minute before Mimoun Mahi rubbed salt into the host’s wounds four minutes from time.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the Goffertstadion where NEC Nijmegen and FC Twente played out a five-goal thriller.

Jay-Roy Grot was the hero for Peter Hyballa’s side – the 18-year-old’s first half brace putting the host’s two up and seemingly on their way to a first league win since a priceless away day win over Roda JC on 1st October.

However, Rene Hake’s surprising high-flyers, whose last league defeat had been at the hands of Heerenveen on 10th September, pulled themselves back into the contest six minutes into the second half courtesy of Manchester City loanee, Enes Unal’s tenth goal of the season in all competitions.

Yet, the home side weren’t to be denied – centre half, Dario Dumic’s strike just before the hour mark ultimately ensuring a vital win for the hosts despite an own goal from Swedish defender, Mikael Dyrestam eleven minutes from time ensuring a tense end to an entertaining contest.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action began at Het Kasteel where Roda JC extended their recent run of form to six games without defeat – taking a precious point away from their encounter with Sparta Rotterdam which was sufficient enough to move the Kerkrade-based outfit off the foot of the Eredivisie standings at the expense of Go Ahead Eagles.

In truth, Yannis Anastasiou’s side may have felt hard done by with just a point to show for their trip to Rotterdam – experienced defender, Chris Kum and Cypriote forward, Nestoras Mytidis having put the away side two goals to the good either side of half time before strikes from first, Loris Brogno just after the hour mark and then, Australian midfielder, Kenneth Dougall with nine minutes to play, rescued a point for Alex Pastoor’s men.

Despite enduring an underwhelming UEFA Europa League campaign, AZ Alkmaar’s narrow victory over Irish minnows, Dundalk on Thursday evening left John van den Brom’s men in second place in Group D and with a chance of making it through to the latter stages of the competition with just one group game remaining and, buoyed by this morale-boosting victory, the Alkmaar-based outfit hit struggling Heracles for five on Sunday afternoon at the AFAS Stadion.

An eighth goal of the campaign from former Heracles striker, Wout Weghorst (who also squandered a penalty for the home side just before the half time whistle) sandwiched in between a brace from free-scoring midfielder, Robert Muhren saw the home side three goals up with just 25 minutes on the clock before a spot-kick from Swedish marksman, Samuel Armenteros briefly brought the visitors back into the contest seven minutes into the second half.

However, any hopes John Stegeman’s side might have harboured of a comeback were eradicated by Dabney dos Santos who restored the host’s three-goal cushion before Iranian international, Alireza Jahanbakhsh rubbed salt into the visitor’s wounds by adding a fifth for the home side in the first minute of added time.

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With their progress to the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League already assured, Peter Bosz was able to shuffle his pack for Ajax’s victory over Panathinaikos on Thursday evening – ensuring that the visitors arrived fresh for their Sunday afternoon encounter with Jurgen Streppel’s high-flying Heerenveen at the Abe Lenstra Stadion.

The hosts were yet to taste defeat on home soil this season and appeared to be on course to retain that record until substitute, Donny van de Beek – who had also put in a full shift on Thursday evening, slid a perfectly timed ball in behind the host’s rear guard for Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen to slide the ball through the legs of the exposed Erwin Mulder and ultimately seal a win which, for a short time at least took the visitors to the top of the Eredivisie standings – a point ahead of bitter rivals, Feyenoord, whose match in Utrecht kicked off later in the afternoon.

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Having endured a torrid evening in Manchester which saw them hit for four at Old Trafford without reply and their hopes of progression to the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League all but ended, Feyenoord arrived at the Stadion Galgenwaard for a repeat of last season’s KNVB Beker final against FC Utrecht looking to reclaim top spot in the Eredivisie – having seen Ajax overtake them by virtue of their victory over Heerenveen earlier in the afternoon.

However, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men found themselves on the back foot almost immediately when Sofyan Amrabat disposed Tonny Vilhena and found Nacer Barazite who put in a well weighted slide rule pass that gave Sebastien Haller the opportunity to slot the ball past Brad Jones in the Feyenoord goal with just two minutes on the clock.

Despite the shock of conceding so early in the contest, the visitors rallied and were back on level terms just two minutes later – ex-Utrecht man, Jens Toornstra finding Rick Karsdorp whose marauding run down the right very nearly found Nicolai Jorgensen in the box were in not for a timely intervention by Mark van der Maarel whose clearance fell invitingly for another former Utrecht player – Dirk Kuyt, who squeezed the rebound between Robbin Ruiter and the Utrecht ‘keeper’s near post.

Yet, Erik ten Hag’s men would go into the break with their noses in front – retaking the lead just after the half hour mark when Amrabat capitalised on a poor clearance from Eljero Elia to unleash a long range effort that was parried into the path of full back, Giovanni Troupee by Jones who was helpless to stop the 18-year-old from restoring the host’s advantage.

The hosts appeared to be on course to inflict would have been just a second league defeat of the season for Feyenoord following the visitor’s shock reversal at the hands of Go Ahead Eagles on 6th November when a slip from Karsdorp allowed Barazite to waltz through the visitor’s rear guard and play in Yassin Ayoub who, having wrong footed Karim El Ahmadi, was denied twice in quick succession by Australian stopper, Jones who believed he had snuffed out the danger until Haller rattled in the rebound from just inside the area.

However, Feyenoord are made of sterner stuff this season – the visitor’s forcing their way back into the contest in the final minute when Jorgensen scrambled the ball past the host’s substitute goalkeeper, David Jensen – who had replaced the injured Ruiter earlier in the half after Utrecht’s number one appeared to have suffered a head injury as he tumbled over a grounded Jorgensen while catching the ball in mid-air.

The extensive treatment for Ruiter’s injury saw nine minutes of additional time tagged onto proceedings and, in the dying seconds of an enthralling contest, the visitor’s completed their comeback – a Bilal Basacikoglu corner from the right finding the head of Jorgensen at the back post who sent the ball back across goal and onto the head of substitute, Michiel Kramer who earned Feyenoord an unlikely point which ensured that the Rotterdam giants would remain atop the Eredivisie standings at the close of the fourteenth round of action by virtue of goal difference.

Results: Week 14

Go Ahead Eagles 0-1 Willem II

Vitesse Arnhem 2-2 Excelsior

PSV Eindhoven 3-1 ADO Den Haag

PEC Zwolle 0-4 FC Groningen

NEC Nijmegen 3-2 FC Twente

Sparta Rotterdam 2-2 Roda JC

AZ Alkmaar 5-1 Heracles

SC Heerenveen 0-1 AFC Ajax

FC Utrecht 3-3 Feyenoord

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