EREDIVISIE REPORT: Week Sixteen and Seventeen

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The sixteenth round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Noordlease Stadion where Groningen brought to an end the seven-game unbeaten run of visitors, Roda JC.

Mimoun Mahi put the hosts into the ascendancy after just ten minutes with his fifth goal of the season before Norwegian forward, Alexander Sorloth made sure of all three points for Ernest Faber’s side nineteen minutes from time.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Goffertstadion in Nijmegen where NEC inflicted a fourth loss in succession on Zeljko Petrovic’s free-falling ADO Den Haag.

Twenty-three-year-old Frenchman, Kevin Mayi had already put the home side a goal to the good with just ten minutes on the clock before ADO left back, Tyronne Ebuehi put through his own net just two minutes later to leave the out-of-form visitors with a proverbial mountain to climb and things would get even worse for the men from The Hague – Mohamed Rayhi adding a third for the hosts a minute before the break to effectively end the game as a contest with a half of football still to play.

Having come up short in their pursuit of a place in the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League after being held goalless at home to FC Rostov in midweek – a result which was good enough for the Russian side to finish their first ever UEFA Champions League campaign in third place in Group D, PSV Eindhoven played host to bottom placed Go Ahead Eagles in the knowledge that the defence of their Eredivisie crown would now be their only concern for the remainder of the campaign.

Phillip Cocu’s men started well but, for the ninth time in sixteen league outings this season, went in at the break without having found the back of the net despite the best efforts of Bart Ramselaar who rattled visiting ‘keeper, Theo Zwarthoed’s right hand upright just short of the half hour mark.

Having presided over a wretched run of results that has seen the newly promoted side lose seven of their last eight games ahead of their trip to Eindhoven, Eagles coach, Hans de Koning has been feeling the heat of late and, despite a creditable performance at the Philips Stadion, the visitors, who have picked up just one point on the road all season, were to once again return to Deventer empty handed when an attempted through ball by substitute, Steven Bergwijn ricocheted off visiting right back, Joey Groenbast into the path of PSV’s marauding left back Joshua Brenet whose pinpoint ball across the face of Zwarthoed’s goal found an unmarked Siem de Jong who made no mistake with the goal at his mercy.

Image result for SC Heerenveen 2-1 Excelsior

Elsewhere on Saturday evening, Heerenveen did their utmost to keep the top three in sight by overcoming a dogged Excelsior side at the Abe Lenstra Stadion.

Mitchell van der Gaag’s side arrived in Friesland unbeaten in their last three matches – having taken five points from a possible nine and looked like continuing their recent rich vein of form when Nigel Hasselbaink put the visitor’s into the ascendancy from the spot two minutes before the interval following a handball from Lucas Bijker.

However, the hosts were back on level terms just three minutes into the second period thanks to Swedish marksman, Sam Larsson who was on hand again twelve minutes from time to net his seventh goal of the season and secure all three points for the home side to leave Jurgen Streppel’s side just four points off third placed PSV.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the MAC3PARK Stadion where PEC Zwolle ended a run of three successive defeats by holding fellow strugglers, Willem II to a goalless draw that did little to alleviate either side’s relegation fears – Ron Jans’ men remaining entrenched in the bottom three while Erwin van de Looi’s charges sit just two points and three places better off in 13th.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at Het Kasteel where visitors, Vitesse Arnhem took all three points at the expense of their undermanned hosts, Sparta Rotterdam.

Alex Pastoor’s side have struggled of late – having taken just one point from the last nine while, by contrast, Henk Fraser’s men have enjoyed a recent upturn in form – taking five points over the same period, which saw the Arnhem-based outfit on the fringes of the UEFA Europa League playoff places ahead of this encounter.

However, despite their contrasting form, the visitors had to wait until Ricky van Wolfswinkel struck seven minutes from time to break the host’s resolute rear guard while any chance of a comeback was dispelled when referee, Allard Lindhout gave Stijn Spearings his marching orders in the second minute of added time.

Two sides with contrasting fortunes in continental competition came head to head to Sunday afternoon as AZ Alkmaar – fresh from a remarkable victory over Zenit St. Petersburg that ensured that John van den Brom’s side will be in the hat for Monday’s draw for the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League, took on league-leading, Feyenoord who tumbled out of the same competition after slipping up at home to Dick Advocaat’s, Fenerbahce on Thursday evening.

Despite their elimination from European competition, Feyenoord are currently enjoying the club’s best start to a season in sixteen years and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side wasted little time in shifting their focus back onto domestic matters – Steven Berghuis marking his return to the club where he made his name by putting the visitor’s into an 11th minute lead with a low drive following a neat one-two with Nicolai Jorgensen on the edge of the Alkmaar area.

It appeared that the exertions of Thursday evening had taken a significant toll on the hosts who found themselves increasingly overrun as the half progressed – Eljero Elia cutting in from the left and beating Mattias Johansson before striking the foot of Sergio Rochet’s left hand upright with a quarter of an hour gone.

As the chances piled up for the table-toppers, a second goal appeared inevitable. Yet the goal-scorer and the manner in which it was scored were anything but predictable. Jan-Arie van der Heijden hadn’t found the back of the net in more than eighteen months coming into this encounter, yet took it upon himself to double the visitor’s advantage just four minutes later – the centre half picking the ball up on half way before gliding past three men and playing a neat give and go with Jorgensen whose well weighted return ball found the former Ajax and Vitesse man in prime position just outside the host’s box to evade the attentions of a sliding Stijn Wuytens and poke the ball over the onrushing Rochet into the back of the net.

The league leaders weren’t finished – with just seconds remaining before the half time whistle, Jens Toornstra capitalised on a poor throw in from Johansson on half way to set Tonny Vilhena away with only Derrick Luckassen to beat which the Feyenoord number ten did with some aplomb – looping a well-weighted ball over the AZ centre back’s head to Jorgensen whose side-footed finish effectively ended the game as a contest with forty five minutes still to play.

Feyenoord, whose attention returns to defending their KNVB Beker crown on Wednesday evening when they play host to ADO Den Haag in the round of 16, went through the motions in the second half but did add a fourth with 21 minutes left to play when Elia cut in from the left and fed Vilhena who, having found himself with time and space aplenty inside the host’s area, picked out the top left hand corner of Rochet’s net to send the Rotterdam giants three points clear at the top of the standings and put the pressure back on title rivals, Ajax who faced off against FC Twente later in the afternoon.

Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, FC Utrecht moved into 6th position after seeing off ten-man Heracles at the Stadion Galgenwaard.

After having weathered a torrid opening to the campaign that saw his side winless in their opening six games of the season, Erik ten Hag’s men are now unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions and took the lead just after the half hour mark when  Mike te Wierik put through his own net.

Utrecht’s talismanic forward, Sebastien Haller sealed all three points for the hosts from the spot with five minutes remaining before referee, Bas Nijhuis rubbed salt into the visitor’s wounds by giving Tim Breukers his marching orders seconds before blowing the final whistle.

Image result for FC Twente 1-0 Ajax

The sixteenth round of Eredivisie action was concluded at De Grolsch Veste where ten-man, Ajax surprisingly slipped up in their pursuit of league leaders, Feyenoord at the hands of FC Twente who ended the visitor’s remarkable twenty-match unbeaten run that had stretched all the way back to the end of August in the process.

With the game seemingly headed for a goalless draw, Manchester City loanee, Bersant Celina got free down the left hand side and put in a dangerous ball that seemed destined for the boot of substitute, Chinedu Ede but for the intervention of Nick Viergever who inexplicably shovelled the ball out of danger with his left hand after falling at Ede’s feet leaving referee, Dennis Higler with little alternative but to issue the Ajax centre half with his second yellow card of the game and consequently reduce Peter Bosz’s side to ten men for what little time remained after Mateusz Klich sent Ajax ‘keeper, Andre Onana the wrong way from the resultant spot kick a minute into added time at the end of the game.

Results: Week 16

FC Groningen 2-0 Roda JC

NEC Nijmegen 3-0 ADO Den Haag

PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Go Ahead Eagles

SC Heerenveen 2-1 Excelsior

PEC Zwolle 0-0 Willem II

Sparta Rotterdam 0-1 Vitesse Arnhem

AZ Alkmaar 0-4 Feyenoord

FC Utrecht 2-0 Heracles

FC Twente 1-0 AFC Ajax


Image result for SC Heerenveen willem ii

The seventeenth and final round of Eredivisie action before the month-long winter break kicked off on Friday evening in Tilburg where Willem II surprisingly overcame Heerenveen.

Erwin van de Looi’s men had been written off by many following a torrid start to the season which saw the Tilburg-based outfit win just one of their first eleven games – that sole win remarkably arriving at the Amsterdam Arena on 20th August, but the side who only just retained their top flight status by successfully negotiating the unpredictable end of season promotion/ relegation playoffs have hit form of late – coming into this encounter unbeaten in their last four outings and the home side’s renewed confidence was clear for all to see as Spanish forward, Fran Sol handed the hosts the lead on the quarter hour mark.

In contrast, Jurgen Streppel arrived at the club he negotiated through those same promotion/ relegation playoffs at the end of last term, having helped his new club, Heerenveen into the top four. The Friesland-based outfit, having started the season with just one loss in their first thirteen matches in all competitions, arrived at the Koning Willem II Stadion on the back of three successive victories that included securing progression into the quarter finals of the KNVB Beker on Tuesday evening at the expense of IJsselmeervogels and the in-form visitors were back on level terms just nine minutes later – Freek Heerkens putting through his own net.

However, it was the hosts who came out on top when Fran Sol helped himself to his second of the evening and the Spaniard’s seventh of the campaign just short of the hour mark to leave Erwin van de Looi’s men five points clear of the bottom three in 10th.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway with a stalemate at the Parkstad Limburg Stadion between draw specialists, Roda JC and FC Utrecht.

This was the Kerkrade-based outfit’s seventh draw in their last eight outings and tenth overall and was enough to temporarily take the hosts two points clear of bottom-of-the-table, Go Ahead Eagles.

Meanwhile, Erik ten Hag’s side, having weathered a poor opening to the campaign where they went winless in their first six games of the season prior to knocking FC Twente out of the cup, find themselves firmly ensconced in the UEFA Europa League playoff places and, by virtue of a last gasp Richairo Zivkovic penalty in their all-Eredivisie tie in the last 16 of the KNVB Beker against PEC Zwolle on Wednesday evening, have secured a place in the quarter finals of the competition that they reached the final of last season.

Two other sides that enjoyed cup success in midweek came head-to-head at De Kuip on Saturday evening. League leaders, Feyenoord easily saw off ADO Den Haag on Wednesday evening while visitors, Vitesse Arnhem dispatched fifth tier outfit, Jodan Boys with consummate ease to tee up a quarter final between the two sides at the end of January.

Having weathered their own sticky spell, which included their only league defeat to date – an embarrassing loss at Go Ahead Eagles at the start of November, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have hit a rich vein of goal scoring form of late – the Rotterdam giants having found the back of the net 21 times in their last five outings prior to the visit of Henk Fraser’s side and it didn’t take long for the home side to find the back of the net once more – Feyenoord hitting the front on the quarter hour mark when a Rick Karsdorp cross from the right wasn’t dealt with by Kelvin Leerdam  – the ex-Feyenoord player only succeeding in presenting the ball to Eljero Elia who made the Vitesse full back pay by putting the hosts into the ascendancy.

However, the men from Arnhem have enjoyed their own good run of form of late – arriving in Rotterdam unbeaten in their last five outings in all competitions and were back on level terms just nine minutes later when Miquel Nelom’s intended pass inadvertently hit referee, Dennis Higler to set the visitors on a counterattack which resulted in Milot Rashica getting free down the right and finding Adnane Tighadouini unmarked at the back post with a perfectly weighted cross which the Dutch born Moroccan volleyed past Brad Jones.

Undeterred, the hosts continued to press and very nearly retook the lead just after the half hour mark when Eric Botteghin rose highest to head a Tonny Vilhena corner against Eloy Room’s crossbar.

It seemed only a matter of time before the league leaders restored their advantage and the breakthrough came three minutes before the break when an Elia cross from the right found Steven Berghuis unmarked at the back post, who having escaped the attentions of Japanese left back, Kosuke Ota, headed the ball past Room to send the hosts into the break on top.

Coming into this encounter, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men knew that a win or a draw would guarantee that the Rotterdammers would be ‘Winter Champions’ for the first time in sixteen years and the home side ensured that it would be the latter when they found a third just short of the hour mark – Vilhena feeding Dirk Kuyt on the edge of the area who then shuffled the ball out to Berghuis who found himself with time and space to curl the ball with his left foot around the despairing dive of Room.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at De Grolsch Veste where visitors, AZ Alkmaar – fresh from securing passage into the quarter finals of the KNVB Beker in midweek, inflicted just a second home defeat in the league this season on hosts, FC Twente.

Wout Weghorst had given John van den Brom’s men the lead just a minute into the second half before Manchester City loanee, Enes Unal brought the home side back on level terms with the Turk’s eleventh goal of the season in all competitions in the 68th minute to leave the match seemingly headed for a draw until the unfortunate, Peet Bijen put through his own net a minute into stoppage time to hand an early Christmas present of all three points to the visitors.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Stadion Woudestein where Excelsior and NEC Nijmegen shared four goals between them.

Stanley Elbers had put the home side ahead after just eleven minutes of play with his fifth goal of the season before 18-year-old, Jay-Roy Grot levelled the scores four minutes before the break.

Mitchell van der Gaag’s men welcomed their visitors from Nijmegen having won just one of their last five games and were in desperate need of a win to take them away from the bottom three and retook the lead just four minutes into the second half through full back, Khalid Karami.

Peter Hyballa’s side came into this encounter three points better off than their hosts, having won two of their last three and the Nijmegen-based outfit ensured that the gap between the two sides would remain unchanged over the winter break when centre half, Dario Dumic levelled proceedings following a Ferdi Kadioglu corner with twelve minutes left to play.

Sunday’s action continued at the Noordlease Stadion where FC Groningen entertained bottom-of-the-table, Go Ahead Eagles.

The Eagles made the trip north two points adrift at the foot of the table having lost their last four in a row – their last win coming on 6th November when they remarkably overcame league leaders, Feyenoord at De Adelaarshorst and the visitors fell behind in the 20th minute when the home side hit the Eredivisie strugglers on the counter attack – Simon Tibbling riding the challenge of Leon de Kogel before playing in 22-year-old, Mimoun Mahi who unleashed an unstoppable drive from the right hand side of the area that left visiting ‘keeper, Theo Zwarthoed grasping at thin air as the ball whistled past him into the roof of the net.

It was turning into a familiar story for under pressure Eagles coach, Hans de Koning, who had seen his side take just a single point from their travels in the Eredivisie this term until just after the half hour mark when Jarchinio Antonia was put in the clear by the quick thinking of de Kogel following a succession of corners from which the home side had failed to profit – the ex-Groningen man rattling the ball past an exposed Sergio Padt to drag the besieged visitors back on level terms and ultimately, secure just the second point accrued by the Deventer-based outfit away from home this season.

While there were signs of optimism heading into the winter break for one side from Overijssel there was little festive cheer for the supporters of PEC Zwolle after their nine men were hit for three by Heracles at the Polman Stadion on Sunday afternoon.

Having tumbled out of the KNVB Beker at the hands of FC Utrecht following a last-gasp Richairo Zivkovic spot kick on Wednesday evening which extended the visitor’s winless run to six in all competitions ahead of their trip to Almelo, the sixteenth minute dismissal of Bart Schenkeveld after the full back had felled Brandley Kuwas in the area meant that the resultant penalty duly converted by Swedish marksman, Samuel Armenteros served to rub salt into Zwolle’s wounds.

Things would only get worse for Ron Jans’ side when Bram van Polen was shown his second yellow card by referee, Edwin van de Graaf on the hour mark before further strikes by first, Vincent Vermeij twelve minutes from time and then Daryl van Mieghem three minutes later added a touch of the emphatic to the score line.

Elsewhere, a lone Sheraldo Becker strike just short of the hour mark gave ten-man, ADO Den Haag a priceless victory over Alex Pastoor’s Sparta Rotterdam at the Kyocera Stadion.

ADO coach, Zeljko Petrovic had seen his side lose each of their last five outings in all competitions while shipping in fifteen goals in the process and was left to bite his nails when 20-year-old, Hector Hevel was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence by referee, Kevin Blom eleven minutes from time. However, the men from The Hague were able to cling on to what was just their third home triumph in the Eredivisie this season and climb three points clear of the dreaded bottom three.

Image result for Ajax 1-1 PSV Eindhoven

The seventeenth round of Eredivisie action was brought to a close with de Topper, as Ajax – six points adrift of leaders, Feyenoord, played host to reigning champions, PSV Eindhoven who, following a stuttering opening to their title defence, arrived in Amsterdam nine points off top spot

Having gone a remarkable twenty games unbeaten in all competitions since back-to-back losses against Willem II and FC Rostov in late August, Peter Bosz’s men welcomed Phillip Cocu’s side having tasted defeat twice in the space of five days – de Godenzonen following up a last gasp defeat in Enschede on Sunday by tumbling out of the KNVB Beker at the hands of second tier, SC Cambuur on Thursday evening and early injuries that forced the withdrawal of both Kasper Dolberg and Anwar El Ghazi threatened to derail the home side’s chances in this encounter until early in the second half when Amin Younes cut in from the left and played a square ball which substitute, Mateo Cassierra allowed to run through his legs affording Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen time and space to unleash an unstoppable right-footed drive from the edge of the area that left Jeroen Zoet grasping at thin air.

Just short of the hour mark, Siem de Jong made his return to the Amsterdam ArenA – being introduced as a replacement for Andres Guardado to a mixed reception from those who had once cheered the Dutch international during his trophy-laden time at the club and the injury plagued 27-year-old won’t be expecting many Christmas cards from Amsterdam this year after popping up to deny his former club all three points – the Newcastle loanee stealing in behind the Ajax backline before controlling a well weighted pass from Gaston Pereiro with his right and lashing the ball past Andre Onana with his left to leave honours even and Feyenoord five points clear at the top of the standings.

Results: Week 17

Willem II 2-1 SC Heerenveen

Roda JC 0-0 FC Utrecht

Feyenoord 3-1 Vitesse Arnhem

FC Twente 1-2 AZ Alkmaar

Excelsior 2-2 NEC Nijmegen

FC Groningen 1-1 Go Ahead Eagles

Heracles 3-0 PEC Zwolle

ADO Den Haag 1-0 Sparta Rotterdam

AFC Ajax 1-1 PSV Eindhoven

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