EREDIVISIE 2017/18 REPORT: Week Three

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With the first international break of the campaign on the horizon, the third week of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Rat Verlegh Stadion where newly promoted NAC Breda put successive four-goal thrashings at the hands of both Vitesse Arnhem and PSV Eindhoven in the opening two weeks of the season behind them to post their first point since regaining their top flight status.

However, despite finally getting off the mark at the third time of asking, the hosts were ultimately left disappointed to only come away with a point after looking set for all three having found themselves two-up heading into the final 20 minutes against another struggling side, Sparta Rotterdam, for whom substitute, Ragnar Ache proved an unlikely hero – the 19-year-old bagging a late brace to grab a share of the spoils.

Much of the credit for NAC’s return to the Dutch top flight last term can be attributed to the Breda-based outfit’s close relationship with Manchester City and the connection with the blue half of Manchester played an important role in the home side breaking the deadlock three minutes before the break – City loanee, Pablo Mari smashing the ball past an exposed Roy Kortsmit at the second time of asking after the visiting ‘keeper had got down sharply to deny the Spaniard’s initial header when the 23-year-old had been found unmarked at the back post by a pinpoint free kick from another man on loan from Pep Guardiola’s side, Angelino.

Buoyed by their half time lead, Stijn Vreven’s side emerged for the second half with an added spring in their step and doubled their advantage just six minutes after the restart when, having teed up the home side’s opener, left back, Angelino was once more on hand to set up Rai Vloet – the former PSV forward towering over Michel Breuer to powerfully head the City loanee’s corner from the right beyond Kortsmit from the edge of the box, which the Sparta ‘keeper failed to stop despite getting both hands to the ball.

A minute after going two-down Sparta coach, Alex Pastoor rang the changes – replacing veteran Slovenian forward, Dalibor Volas with 19-year-old, Ragnar Ache – a switch which would pay dividends twenty minutes from time when the substitute headed the ball home from close range after being found by the head of Breuer following a Craig Goodwin corner from the left before the young forward completed the comeback six minutes from time – Robert Mühren heading down a Goodwin cross from the left for Ache to stab the ball past Andries Noppert from a few yards out.

Despite seeing their two-goal lead evaporate, the home side very nearly claimed all three points in the 90th minute when another man on loan from the blue half of Manchester, Manu Garcia, displayed some fine control to kill a high hanging Vloet cross on the edge of the area before escaping the attentions of Sherel Floranus and unleashing a low drive that cannoned away off the foot of Kortsmit’s right hand upright.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway in Arnhem where beaten cup-finalists, AZ Alkmaar earned a measure of revenge over last season’s KNVB Beker winners, Vitesse.

It took just three minutes for the away side to break the deadlock – Wout Weghorst volleying home home his third goal in as many games on the edge of the box following Feyenoord loanee, Marko Vejinovic’s pinpoint free kick from the right.

Seven minutes before the break the away side could have doubled their advantage but Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s low drive from just inside the area only found the foot of Remko Pasveer’s right hand upright after the Iranian international had been slipped in by an incisive pass from Joris van Overeem.

The away side again came close to extending their advantage nineteen minutes into the second half when AZ’s marauding full back, Jonas Svensson rattled Pasveer’s crossbar after being put in the clear by Jahanbakhsh.

Despite taking six points from a possible six coming into this encounter, it took until twenty-two minutes from time for the hosts – who will be the Netherlands’ only representatives in the group stage of this season’s UEFA Europa League, to get back onto level terms – Bryan Linssen picking out Slovenian marksman, Tim Matavz, whose downward header served to deceive Marco Bizot in the visitor’s net.

Having come up short in last season’s cup final against the same opposition, John van den Brom’s side snatched a measure of revenge by taking all three points nine minutes from time – Weghorst escaping the attentions of substitute, Matt Miazga to head home his second of the match after being picked out at the back post by a well-weighted cross from Vejinovic.

Having lost both of their outings thus far, things went from bad to worse for hosts, ADO Den Haag who saw visitors, Heerenveen pick up their first win of the campaign in their encounter at the Cars Jeans Stadion on Saturday evening.

Following a goalless first half, the visitors raced into a two-goal lead in the space of nine minutes either side of the hour mark – Morten Thorsby getting in between the host’s central defensive pairing of Tom Beugelsdijk and Danny Bakker to poke a Denzel Dumfries cross from the right past an exposed Robert Zwinkels from close range in the 57th minute before the Norwegian U21 international linked up with the former Sparta full back once more nine minutes later to double the away side’s advantage – Dumfries hitting the by-line before teeing up an unmarked Thorsby on the edge of the box for a simple finish.

Despite another Norwegian, ADO’s Bjorn Johnsen, cutting the visitor’s lead in half twelve minutes from time – the 25-year-old muscling his way through a goal-mouth melee to scramble home a Donny Gorter corner from the right from close range, the home side failed to avert a third successive defeat.

Another side yet to get off the mark this season are FC Twente, who slumped to a third defeat in as many games on Saturday evening.

Despite hosts, PEC Zwolle dominating the early stages and Younes Namli rattling Jorn Brondeel’s crossbar with just three minutes on the clock after waltzing his way through the away side’s static rear guard, it took the home side just over half an hour to break their visitor’s stubborn resistance – Youness Mokhtar cutting inside before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top left hand corner of Brondeel’s net after playing a nice give-and-go on the left with Bram van Polen.

Having teed up Mokhtar’s opener, van Polen was on hand twelve minutes from time to secure all three points for the home side by adding their second by beating Brondeel from the spot after referee, Ed Janssen had earlier ruled Dejan Trajkovski to have brought down Kingsley Ehizibue as Zwolle’s marauding right back looked to be away and clear.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Almelo where hosts, Heracles were held by undermanned visitors, Excelsior.

Despite the home side hitting the front on the quarter hour – Joey Pelupessy finding Brandley Kuwas in space just outside the area before the 24-year-old stepped inside Luigi Bruins and unleashed a left footed rocket which left Alessandro Damen grasping at thin air, the hosts were pegged back just a minute later when a snap near post effort from just inside the area by Bruins left home ‘keeper, Bram Castro rooted to the spot.

Having gone in level at the break, the hosts edged ahead once more seven minutes after the restart – Wolverhampton Wanderers’ loanee, Paul Gladon latching onto a perfectly weighted through ball from Bart van Hintum before lobbing the ball over the onrushing Damen to bag his second of the campaign.

However, eleven minutes later the visitors were back on level terms once more – substitute, Jinty Caenepeel tucking the ball into an unguarded net from a few yards out after Ajax loanee, Zakaria El Azzouzi had hit the foot of Castro’s right hand upright with a half volley from just inside the area seconds earlier.

Despite the dismissal of Anouar Hadouir a minute into added time – the 34-year-old substitute being given his marching orders by referee, Martin van den Kerkhof just three minutes after replacing Bruins following a cynical foul on Brahim Darri, Mitchell van der Gaag’s men would hang on for a point.

Image result for Feyenoord 5-0 Willem II

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at De Kuip where reigning champions, Feyenoord maintained their perfect start to the defence of their title by hitting pointless, Willem II for five.

It took Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men just thirteen minutes to break their struggling guest’s resistance – Jens Toornstra diverting a Kevin Diks header past Timon Wellenreuther from a few yards out following a Steven Berghuis corner from the right.

The home side doubled their advantage just three minutes later – Berghuis lashing a Ridgeciano Haps cross from the left past Wellenreuther from just inside the area.

The game was effectively over as a contest on the twenty minute mark as Toornstra added his second and the host’s third – a pinpoint in-swinging cross from the right by Fiorentina loanee, Diks picking out the head of the unmarked 28-year-old at the back post.

The hosts dispelled any hope Erwin van de Looi’s beleaguered troops might have harboured of mounting a comeback five minutes before the break – Tonny Vilhena lashing the ball past Willem II’s German ‘keeper with a wicked left footed drive from just outside the area after being found in acres of space by Jean-Paul Boetius following a Feyenoord corner on the left.

Despite taking their foot off the gas somewhat in the second half – van Bronckhorst even being afforded the luxury of handing youth team stand-out, Cheick Toure his senior bow at the age of 16 years and 201 days twenty four minutes from time, the home side added a touch of the emphatic to the score-line in the closing stages by adding a fifth from the spot after referee, Bas Nijhuis ruled that Freek Heerkens had brought Feyenoord’s marauding centre half, Eric Botteghin down from behind on the edge of the box – Boetius leaving Wellenreuther rooted to the spot from the resultant penalty kick in the 81st minute.

Image result for VVV Venlo 0-2 AFC Ajax

A little later on Sunday afternoon, Ajax put Thursday evening’s UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Norwegian champions, Rosenborg behind them to put an end to newly-promoted VVV Venlo’s 100% start to the campaign at De Koel, thanks to second half strikes from Donny van de Beek and substitute, David Neres.

Following a goalless opening period largely dominated by their hosts, Marcel Keizer’s side moved up through the gears early in the second half and edged ahead in the 55th minute – half time substitute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar heading an Amin Younes cross from the left into the path of Donny van de Beek, who fired the ball past a static Lars Unnerstall from the edge of the box.

The away side ensured all three points by adding a second through Brazilian starlet, David Neres – the substitute lobbing the ball delightfully over the onrushing Unnerstall from just inside the area after being slipped in down the right by an incisive ball from van de Beek.

Elsewhere, PSV Eindhoven maintained their perfect start to the campaign by seeing off another side that have yet to post a point this season, Roda JC.

Despite having their title credentials questioned in the Dutch media following their early exit from the UEFA Europa League, Phillip Cocu’s side made short work of their struggling visitors and took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock – Jurgen Locadia beating Hidde Jurjus – who is on a season-long loan at Roda from PSV this season, with a low drive after being sent clear by a well weighted ball from Chelsea loanee, Marco van Ginkel.

The home side doubled their advantage fifteen minutes later when Hirving Lozano found himself in the right place at the right time to tap the ball into an empty net – the ball falling at the feet of the Mexican international after Jurjus had done well to initially deny Locadia his second with an outstretched right leg after the 23-year-old had been found by Joshua Brenet who himself had been slipped in by a perfectly weighted through ball from Steven Bergwijn, to leave PSV second in the table with just goal difference separating Cocu’s side from defending champions, Feyenoord.

The third round of Eredivisie action was concluded at the Noordlease Stadion where hosts, FC Groningen notched their first win of the campaign at the third time of asking at the expense of a weary FC Utrecht.

Erik ten Hag’s side made the journey north on the back of their ultimately fruitless UEFA Europa League excursion to St. Petersburg on Thursday evening and found themselves chasing the game when Django Warmerdam handed the home side the lead with just eight minutes on the clock – the former Ajax full back dispossessing Sander an de Streek before evading the attentions of Urby Emanuelson and stroking the ball into the corner of David Jensen’s net from just outside the area.

Having squandered a number of opportunities to level the scores, the visitors very nearly restored parity on twenty four minutes when Willem Janssen saw his rasping effort from just inside the area deflected onto Sergio Padt’s left hand upright after the Utrecht skipper had been teed up by a strong burst into the box by Yassin Ayoub.

The home ‘keeper again had the woodwork to thank for maintaining his clean sheet two minutes later when Janssen’s central defensive partner, Dario Dumic saw his back post header come off the outside of Padt’s right hand post following a corner from the right.

Despite finding themselves on the back foot for much of the remainder of the first half, the hosts doubled their advantage five minutes before the break – Jesper Drost putting the ball beyond the reach of an exposed Jensen after being put through by an incisive pass from Ruben Jenssen.

Having taken a two-goal lead against the run-of-play into the interval the home side could have added a third on the hour mark when, having been picked out just inside the box by Mimoun Mahi, Juninho Bacuna saw his effort cannon off Jensen’s crossbar.

Despite eventually clawing their way back into the contest through PSG loanee, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck nineteen minutes into the second half – the French forward marking his league debut for the club by scrambling the ball home from close range, the away side failed to take anything from the game.

Results: Week 3

NAC Breda 2-2 Sparta Rotterdam

Vitesse Arnhem 1-2 AZ Alkmaar

ADO Den Haag 1-2 SC Heerenveen

PEC Zwolle 2-0 FC Twente

Heracles 2-2 Excelsior

Feyenoord 5-0 Willem II

VVV Venlo 0-2 AFC Ajax

PSV Eindhoven 2-0 Roda JC

FC Groningen 2-1 FC Utrecht

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