EREDIVISIE REPORT: Week Eighteen

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Following the four-week winter break, the Eredivisie resumed with the eighteenth round of fixtures kicking off on Friday evening at De Adelaarshorst in Deventer where bottom-placed Go Ahead Eagles played host to high-flying, AZ Alkmaar.

Having taken just a single point from their previous five outings, it has already been a busy transfer window for Han de Koning’s strugglers, who welcomed the arrival of former Feyenoord forward, Elvis Manu on loan from Brighton in addition to the capture of 19-year-old’s, Pedro Chirivella Burgos and Daniel Crowley on a similar basis from Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

Image result for Go Ahead Eagles 1-3 AZ Alkmaar

The fact that all three are forward thinking players clearly illustrates the deficiencies in de Koning’s goal-shy squad and two of the three new arrivals – Manu and Chirivella went straight into the starting eleven as the hosts looked to begin the New Year on the right foot.

However, despite encouraging signs from Manu in particular for the home side during the early exchanges it was John van den Brom’s visitors who looked the most dangerous in a goalless first period and the Eagles were lucky not to go in at the break a goal down when Xandro Schenk appeared to clearly handle the ball in the host’s area while staving off the attentions of Robert Muhren mid-way through the first half – only for referee, Danny Makkelie to wave away the visitor’s protests.

Following a relatively uneventful first period, the game really came to life in the latter stages of the second stanza when Wout Weghorst drew the ire of the partisan home crowd by firing the visitors ahead in the 69th minute after Alireza Jahanbakhsh found the former Heracles hitman in acres of space and, in the opinion of de Koning, in an offside position before the club’s top scorer raced unopposed into the box and wrong-footed Theo Zwarthoed – beating the home ‘keeper at his near post.

However, de Koning could have little complaint about their second – Jahanbakhsh crashing the ball past Zwarthoed from well outside the area to double the visitor’s advantage with five minutes to play following a driving run after the Iranian international had picked up the ball from Stijn Wuytens just inside the host’s half.

With all three points seemingly in the bag, the game then took an unusual turn three minutes later when, following a seemingly routine catch by visiting ‘keeper, Sergio Rochet following a long throw by substitute, Darren Maatsen referee, Makkelie pointed to the spot after having spotted Matthias Johansson push another substitute, Randy Wolters in the back off the ball – leaving Jarchinio Antonia to reduce the arrears for the hosts from the spot with his second goal in as many games.

After having been seeming down and out just moments before, the home side set about chasing an unlikely point as the game entered added time. However, it was the away side who would find the fourth goal of an enthralling contest when substitute, Dabney Dos Santos was brought down in the area by Antonia in the second additional minute leaving Jahanbakhsh to dispatch the resultant spot kick past Zwarthoed who then lead the home side’s protests after a second ball was thrown onto the field directly into the line of the ‘keeper’s vision as the penalty was taken. But it was all to no avail as Makkelie blew the final whistle shortly thereafter leaving the Eagles luckless on Friday the 13th and rooted to the bottom of the table.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Abe Lenstra Stadion where Heerenveen kept up the pressure on the ‘big three’ by seeing off the meagre challenge of free-falling ADO Den Haag –who came into this match having lost five of their last six in all competitions.

A quick-fire double from Iranian international, Reza Ghoochannejhad just after the hour mark ensured all three points for the hosts who also unveiled the coup of the January transfer window when Jurgen Streppel gave Real Madrid’s Norwegian wonder kid, Martin Ødegaard his Heerenveen bow in the 89th minute replacing Arber Zeneli – the 18-year-old having joined the club on loan until the end of next season.

With just one loss in their last six games, Groningen picked up where they left off by surprisingly hitting Heracles for four at the Polman Stadion on Saturday evening.

Three goals in nine minutes just after the half hour mark effectively sealed all three points for Ernest Faber’s men with 21-year-old Norwegian marksman, Alexander Sorloth adding to earlier strikes from Mimoun Mahi and Desevio Payne in the 39th minute before Mahi made it four three minutes from time with his second of the game. Daryl van Mieghem’s spectacular last minute strike proved little more than a consolation for John Stegeman’s side.

Image result for PSV Excelsior

Elsewhere, in what was just their sixth home win in 13 games in all competitions this season, back-to-back champions, PSV Eindhoven got the New Year off to a winning start by dispatching Excelsior at the Philips Stadion.

With Warner Hahn’s crossbar still reverberating from a Bart Ramselaar effort just seconds earlier, Davy Propper’s incisive pass from just outside the area, despite the attempted intervention of Excelsior full back, Khalid Karami, found the feet of Chelsea loanee, Marco van Ginkel who, having recently returned to Eindhoven in the hope of repeating the unlikely title success that rounded off his previous loan spell with Phillip Cocu’s side at the back end of last season, beat the on-loan Feyenoord keeper from close range to put the hosts into the ascendancy with 34 minutes gone.

Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and chances, the home side would have to wait until just before the hour mark to double their advantage – quick thinking from Jeroen Zoet releasing Andres Guardado on the left whose pinpoint diagonal ball found Davy Propper with time and space aplenty to beat the onrushing Hahn and seal all three points to keep the top two within reach for Phillip Cocu’s men.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at Het Kasteel where Erik ten Hag celebrated his recent contract extension by watching his Utrecht side snatch all three points in the dying moments of their encounter with Sparta Rotterdam.

With just one win in their last six outings in all competitions, Alex Pastoor could be forgiven for looking anxiously over his shoulder as his newly promoted side have found the going tough of late after making a flying start upon their return to the top flight of Dutch football at the start of the season and, despite 21-year-old Spanish forward, Ivan Calero handing the hosts the lead with 26 minutes on the clock, second half strikes from first, Willem Janssen seven minutes after the resumption and then 22-year-old Swedish midfielder, Kristoffer Peterson two minutes from time saw the hosts extend that unwanted run of poor form to one win in seven.

Image result for Roda JC 0-2 Feyenoord

Sunday’s Eredivisie action kicked off at the Parkstad Limburg Stadion in Kerkrade where league leaders, Feyenoord temporally extended their advantage at the top of the standings to eight points following victory over relegation-threatened, Roda JC.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men who were lucky not to go in at the break a goal down when Roda skipper, Tom van Hyfte got free at the back post and connected with an Adil Auassar free kick from the right only to see his attempt rattle the crossbar with Feyenoord’s Aussie stopper, Brad Jones beaten.

Despite being lucky to still be on level terms at the interval, the ‘winter champions’ emerged with renewed vigour in the second stanza and took the lead in the 69th minute when a perfectly weighted cross from the right by Watford loanee, Steven Berghuis found Nicolai Jorgensen who capitalised on some poor Roda defending to set up visiting skipper, Dirk Kuyt who poked the ball past the exposed Benjamin van Leer.

Feyenoord sealed all three points with two minutes to play when Eljero Elia cut in from the left and played a neat one-two with Jorgensen before beating van Leer with a low drive to the far post.

With their title rivals having stretched their lead at the top of the Eredivisie standings to eight points it was imperative that Ajax left Zwolle with all three points and Peter Bosz’s side made no mistake at the MAC3PARK Stadion on Sunday afternoon.

Following a goalless opening period the visitors turned up the pressure in the early stages of the second half and when 17-year-old, Justin Kluivert – who had been handed his Eredivisie bow by Bosz following an injury to Amin Younes late in the first half, slipped in Anwar El Ghazi with a well weighted slide rule pass in the 53rd minute, the precocious 21-year-old – who has been heavily linked with a move to Lille of late, was tugged down from behind by Zwolle centre half, Philippe Sandler leaving referee Dennis Higler little option but to point to the spot from which Lasse Schone sent Mickey van der Hart the wrong way to put the Lancers into the ascendancy.

With the deadlock broken, the hosts appeared to be on the ropes and, just two minutes after falling behind, Ron Jans – who recently announced that he will be stepping down as Zwolle coach come the end of the season, saw his side go two-down when a long, raking pass from defence by Joel Veltman found Hakim Ziyech in the clear and, having turned Sandler inside out, left van der Hart rooted to the spot with a low drive to the far post.

However, Zwolle bore little resemblance to the side who came into this encounter third off bottom having endured a tumultuous opening half of the season prior to the winter break and halved their visitor’s advantage with eighteen minutes remaining – Mustafa Saymak pouncing upon some sloppy distribution out of defence by Nick Viergever to slip in Ajax loanee, Queensy Menig on the right whose perfectly weighted cross found the head of Birmingham City loanee, Nicolai Brock-Madsen who beat Andre Onana – notching the 24-year-old’s first league goal of the season.

However, any chance of a comeback was dashed ten minutes from time when, having picked up the ball on halfway, Ziyech shrugged off the attentions of Saymak before sprinting into the box and beating van der Hart with a low drive to the far post to seal all three points and cut Feyenoord’s advantage at the top of the Eredivisie standings to five points once more.

Elsewhere, Vitesse Arnhem made short work of FC Twente – hitting their visitors for three in the space of thirty four minutes despite later being reduced to ten men with nine minutes remaining.

On the road, Rene Hake’s men have born little resemblance to the free flowing attacking outfit that has proven so hard to overcome in Enschede and the visitors found themselves a goal down with just thirteen minutes on the clock at the GelreDome – Lewis Baker putting Henk Fraser’s men into the ascendancy with the Englishman’s tenth goal of the season in all competitions, before Ricky van Wolfswinkel doubled the home side’s advantage six minutes before the interval.

Milot Rashica made it three just two minutes after the resumption of play and, despite Mateusz Klich pulling one back from the spot in the 78th minute and Chelsea loanee, Baker receiving his marching orders from referee, Ed Janssen nine minutes from time, the hosts held on for all three points to edge into the UEFA Europa League playoff places at the expense of their opponents with their third win in their last four outings.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Tilburg where a lone strike from 18-year-old, Jay-Roy Grot fourteen minutes from time secured three vital points for NEC Nijmegen to steer Peter Hyballa’s men eight points clear of the drop-zone following their relegation tussle with Willem II.

RESULTS

Go Ahead Eagles 1-3 AZ Alkmaar

SC Heerenveen 2-0 ADO Den Haag

Heracles 1-4 FC Groningen

PSV Eindhoven 2-0 Excelsior

Sparta Rotterdam 1-2 FC Utrecht

Roda JC 0-2 Feyenoord

PEC Zwolle 1-3 AFC Ajax

Vitesse Arnhem 3-1 FC Twente

Willem II 0-1 NEC Nijmegen

 

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