Russians eliminate second Dutch side out of UCL

FC Rostov sealed qualification to the latter stages of a major European competition for the first time in club history after holding former European Cup winners, PSV Eindhoven to a goalless draw at the Philips Stadion on Tuesday evening reports Steven Davies.

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The Russian side who had also knocked out Ajax at the playoff round of the competition earlier in the season came into this encounter with the back-to-back Eredivisie champions off the back of a remarkable success over Bayern Munich and, despite a place in the latter stages of European club football’s elite competition being out of reach, knew that a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League would be theirs as long as they avoided defeat in Eindhoven.

 For Phillip Cocu’s men, who came into this meeting propping up Group D with just the solitary point earned from the 2-2 draw in Rostov on 28th September to their name, nothing less than a win would suffice as the reigning champion’s indifferent league form had seen them fall six points off the pace set by title rivals, Feyenoord and Ajax and tumble out of the KNVB Beker in embarrassing fashion at the hands of newly promoted Sparta Rotterdam.

Following a lacklustre goalless draw at relegation threatened, Roda on Saturday evening, the PSV coach opted to switch to a back three with Joshua Brenet coming in at the expense of Siem de Jong while Steven Bergwijn partnered Luuk de Jong up front with Gaston Pereiro surprisingly dropping to the bench.

Cocu’s opposite number, Ivan Danilyants meanwhile unsurprisingly opted for the same eleven that had so famously seen off Bayern Munich in their last outing in the competition on 23rd November which included a front two of Dmitriy Poloz and Iranian international, Sardar Azmoun who, if you include the qualifying rounds, had netted nine goals between them in the competition thus far this season.

Despite their need for victory, the home side failed to create a clean cut chance until a minute into added time at the end of the first half when French centre half, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin climbed highest to get on the end of an Oleksandr Zinchenko corner only to send his header wide of Soslan Dzhanaev’s near post.

The visitors meanwhile had shown little by way of attacking intent themselves with the Russian’s best chance falling to Poloz – the Russian international losing Isimat-Mirin before dragging his attempt wide of Jeroen Zoet’s near post seven minutes before the interval.

Coming into this crunch encounter, the statistics certainly favoured a close contest of few chances with PSV boasting the best defence in the Eredivisie but also the worst goal-scoring record of any of the top seven sides in the Netherlands, while despite only CSKA having conceded less goals than Rostov in the Russian top flight this term the visitors had scored just 19 times in 17 league games.

As such it came as little surprise that the first shot on target from either side didn’t arrive until Azmoun worked Zoet in the 67th minute – the Dutch international ’keeper having to be on his toes to parry a snap-shot from the edge of the box.

Frustration began to creep in as the former European Cup winners continued to find chances hard to come by – Steven Bergwijn seeing his deflected effort easily fielded by Rostov glovesman, Dzhanaev with a quarter of an hour left to play before substitute, Luciano Narsingh got free down the right and fired the ball across the face of the goal to the feet of fellow replacement, Siem de Jong whose fierce effort was repelled by the visiting ‘keeper.

With time rapidly becoming the enemy, the hosts had one final golden opportunity to clinch a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League when another substitute, Gaston Pereiro got on the end of a lofted ball by Brenet in the visitor’s box – the Uruguayan being denied by an alert Dzhanaev who was quickly off his line to snuff out the opportunity before Bart Ramselaar saw his goal-bound follow-up cleared off the line by Vladimir Granat in the 86th minute.

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However, as so often this season, PSV’s inability to find the back of the net would ultimately prove their undoing as Rostov progressed into the latter stages of a major European club competition for the first time in club history at the expense of the reigning Eredivisie title-holders.

Man of the Match: Miha Mevlja  


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