Following the international break, the fourth round of Eredivisie action got underway on Saturday evening in Almelo where reigning champions, Feyenoord tuned up for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League encounter with Manchester City by seeing off hosts, Heracles.
It took the visitors just twenty two minutes to break the deadlock at the Polman Stadion – Steven Berghuis curling the ball beyond the reach of home ‘keeper, Bram Castro with a stunning left footed effort before Feyenoord’s summer recruit from Watford doubled the away side’s advantage with his fourth goal in as many games just seven minutes later – substitute, Michiel Kramer picking out the 25-year-old’s untracked run with a low cross from the right for Berghuis to rife the ball into the bottom left hand corner of Castro’s net.
Just four minutes later Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men extended their lead further – Jean- Paul Boëtius seeing his speculative right-footed effort from just outside the area deflect off the unlucky Bart van Hintum and beyond a wrong-footed Castro.
Despite cruising to a three-goal advantage at the interval, the visitors wouldn’t have things all their own way after the resumption thanks to a quick-fire double in the space of seven minutes from Reuven Niemeijer – the 22-year-old heading the ball into an empty net seventeen minutes from time after Brad Jones could only deflect a Paul Gladon effort into the young forward’s path after the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ loanee had sprung the away side’s offside trap before referee, Danny Makkelie then handed Niemeijer the chance to beat Jones from the spot after Kevin Diks had tripped Kristoffer Peterson inside the area.
However, the host’s late rally would ultimately come to naught when debutant, Sam Larsson caught out home ‘keeper, Castro on the break after the 34-year-old found himself stranded deep in enemy territory after coming up for a last-gasp corner in the third minute of added time.
At the same time, ADO Den Haag posted their first points of the season by condemning hosts, Willem II to a fourth loss in as many games.
Despite his side’s woeful record ahead of their trip to Tilburg, Alfons Groenendijk has been buoyed by a number of recent recruits. One of which – Abdenasser El Khayati, played a big part in helping ADO avoid the drop last term during a loan spell from previous club, QPR and, having made the switch a permanent one at the end of August, the 28-year-old was on hand to put the away side into the lead from the spot just after the half hour mark – referee, Dennis Higler awarding the away side a penalty after seeing Fernando Lewis compound his poor attempted clearance by pulling back Elson Hooi on the edge of the box.
Things could have been different had Etien Velikonja not been denied by a last ditch challenge by visiting ‘keeper, Robert Zwinkels after Willem II’s newest recruit had seemingly done the hard part by rounding the veteran glovesman in the sixteenth minute.
However, thirteen minutes from time it appeared that the home side would break their own point-scoring duck when Fran Sol levelled proceedings with his second of the campaign – substitute, Ismail Azzaoui bamboozling Tom Beugelsdijk on the left before picking out the Spanish marksman at the near post with a pinpoint low cross.
Yet it was not to be – El Khayati twisting and turning his way past two would-be challenges on the edge of the area before curling the ball beyond the reach of Timon Wellenreuther to cap a stand-out individual display four minutes from time and secure the away side’s first points of the campaign despite Sol nearly salvaging a late point for the home side when his goal-bound header from a Jop van der Linden free kick was palmed onto the underside of the bar by an alert Zwinkels in the second minute of added time.
Last season’s KNVB Beker winners, Vitesse Arnhem warmed up for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League encounter with Lazio by hitting hosts, Excelsior for three on Saturday night.
Having hit the front on the stroke of half time – Luc Castaignos bundling home an Alexander Büttner corner from the right at the back post after Excelsior’s newly recruited Icelandic international ‘keeper, Ögmundur Kristinsson had misjudged the flight of the ball, Henk Fraser’s side slipped through the gears early in the second half and doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute through a spot-kick from Tim Matavž – the Slovenian international making it four goals from four league outings after referee, Bas Nijhuis awarded the away side a penalty after seeing Jeffry Fortes send a marauding Büttner tumbling inside the area.
The away side made sure of all three points by adding a third sixteen minutes from time – Bryan Linssen angling a spectacular drive beyond the despairing dive of Kristinsson from just outside the area.
While champions, Feyenoord and cup-winners, Vitesse Arnhem gear up for their respective European engagements, following their early exit in the qualifying rounds of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, Ajax now find themselves with just domestic matters to focus upon for the remainder of the campaign and Marcel Keizer’s side wasted little time in taking out their frustration on visitors, PEC Zwolle – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back-heeling the home side ahead with just six minutes on the clock after being picked out on the edge of the box by David Neres, who unhinged the visitor’s back line by catching out Bram van Polen down the right with a sublime first touch after receiving a diagonal ball from the opposite flank from Donny van de Beek.
Despite dominating to early exchanges, the home side failed to add to their advantage and had to wait until the second half to make the game safe. However, despite being handed a golden opportunity to double their advantage when referee, Serdar Gözübüyük awarded the home side a penalty after substitute, Justin Kluivert cut in from the right and was sent tumbling by a rash challenge from van Polen, Hakim Ziyech saw his resultant spot-kick palmed away by former Ajax ‘keeper, Diederik Boer.
Having failed to convert from the spot in the 66th minute, Ziyech soon made amends by doubling the host’s advantage nineteen minutes from time – Kluivert finding the Moroccan international unmarked at the back post with a low cross from the right after being sent clear by a perfectly weighted through-ball from Huntelaar.
Despite blowing hot and cold for much of the match, Keizer’s men glossed over another insipid display by adding a third two minutes from time – Huntelaar tapping the ball past an exposed Boer from close range after being picked out by a pinpoint square ball from another substitute, Frenkie de Jong after the 20-year-old had been sent clear down the right by an incisive through-ball from Ziyech.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway with a shock in Friesland, where Heerenveen edged out an undermanned PSV Eindhoven.
Following a tumultuous end to a transfer window that, at one point, appeared to have the majority of Phillip Cocu’s side bound for various destinations all over the continent, the away side’s misery was compounded by finding themselves two goals behind with just six minutes gone at the Abe Lenstra Stadion – Kosovar international, Arber Zeneli letting fly with a spectacular long range drive from well outside the area that Dutch international ‘keeper, Jeroen Zoet could only paw onto the underside of the bar on its way into the back of the net with just four minutes on the clock before Denzel Dumfries teed up Reza Ghoochannejhad to double the home side’s advantage from close range just two minutes later.
Any hopes the visitors may have harboured of making a comeback faded seven minutes before the interval when referee, Kevin Blom gave Mexican international, Hirving Lozano his marching orders following a reckless challenge on Dumfries.
Things could have gotten worse for the ten men of Eindhoven seventeen minutes from time when referee, Blom awarded the hosts a penalty after spotting Nicolas Isimat-Mirin pull Heerenveen centre half, Daniel Høegh to the ground as the two battled to get onto the end of a Martin Ødegaard corner from the right.
However, Iranian international, Ghoochannejhad saw his resultant spot-kick saved by Zoet.
Having surprisingly come unstuck last time out on the road in Groningen, FC Utrecht got back to winning ways at the expense of struggling Roda JC at the Stadion Galgenwaard on Sunday afternoon.
It took the home side just two minutes to break the deadlock – Sander van de Streek stroking the ball beyond an exposed Hidde Jurjus in the visitor’s goal after being found in space on the right side of the area by Zakaria Labyad.
Having dominated proceedings throughout the opening period, it came as little surprise when the home side doubled their advantage thirteen minutes into the second half through the impressive Labyad, who, having rattled Jurjus’ crossbar two minutes before the break, beat the Roda ‘keeper with a low drive after being found unmarked in the area by a low Cyriel Dessers’ cross from the left.
Having posted back-to-back draws following a disappointing opening day reversal at the hands of newly promoted VVV Venlo, Sparta Rotterdam secured their first win of the campaign at the fourth time of asking by edging out undermanned FC Twente at Het Kasteel on Sunday afternoon.
The home side hit the front with just nineteen minutes on the clock when Loris Brogno’s in-swinging cross from the right found Australian international, Craig Goodwin unmarked at the back post to slide home his first of the campaign.
Despite Robert Muhren rattling Jorn Brondeel’s crossbar in the 73rd minute, Alex Pastoor’s side failed to make the points safe until referee, Christiaan Bax gave Stefan Thesker his marching orders in the third minute of added time – the German defender collecting his second booking of the match following a dangerous challenge on Stijn Spierings.
Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon, AZ Alkmaar made it three wins on the bounce at the expense of newly promoted NAC Breda at the AFAS Stadion.
Following a goalless first half, the home side asserted their authority shortly after the resumption with two goals in the space of three minutes – 20-year-old forward, Jeremy Helmer’s deflected effort from just inside the area deceiving the visitor’s debutant ‘keeper, Mark Birighitti to break the deadlock in the 55th minute before 19-year-old, Guus Til rose highest to head an inviting Joris van Overeem cross from the left past the Deadline Day capture from Swansea City from close range three minutes later.
Yet, just when it looked as though John van den Brom’s side had all three points in the bag, NAC’s young French forward, Thierry Ambrose was handed the opportunity to pull the away side back into the contest when he was sent tumbling inside the area by a clumsy challenge from Ron Vlaar in the 83rd minute. Despite the Manchester City loanee seeing his resultant spot-kick saved by Marco Bizot, the host’s ‘keeper was helpless to stop substitute, Giovanni Korte from tucking in the rebound.
However, try as the might, Stijn Vreven’s men couldn’t fashion and equaliser thereafter.
The fourth round of Eredivisie action was concluded in Groningen where the hosts seemed set for all three points from their encounter with newly promoted VVV Venlo after leading for the majority of the contest following a Mimoun Mahi strike on the quarter hour – the 23-year-old netting his third of the campaign after being found unmarked on the edge of the box by a pinpoint cut-back from Django Warmerdam.
However, despite enjoying the majority of chances in the opening stages the hosts almost found themselves back on level terms just before the half hour mark when Mike te Wierik had to be on his toes to clear a goal-bound effort from Lennart Thy off the line after the German forward had rounded Groningen stopper, Sergio Padt.
Having ridden their luck somewhat, the home side emerged with renewed purpose in the second half and, just four minutes after the restart, were handed a golden opportunity to extend their advantage when, having seen Jerold Promes trip Groningen’s South African forward, Lars Veldwijk just inside the area, referee, Allard Lindhout pointed to the spot from which Mahi saw his resultant effort saved by Lars Unnerstall before he so nearly made amends – rattling the German keeper’s right hand upright just after the hour mark with a rasping drive from outside the area.
However, having replaced Torino Hunte in the 75th minute, Arsenal loanee, Kelechi Nwakali popped up to cap his VVV debut by denying the hosts all three points in the first minute of added time – the 19-year-old Nigerian playing a neat one-two with Thy before heading the ball over an exposed Padt to salvage a priceless point for the Eredivisie new-boys.
Results Week 4
Heracles 2-4 Feyenoord
Willem II 1-2 ADO Den Haag
AFC Ajax 3-0 PEC Zwolle
Excelsior 0-3 Vitesse Arnhem
SC Heerenveen 2-0 PSV Eindhoven
FC Utrecht 2-0 Roda JC
Sparta Rotterdam 1-0 FC Twente
AZ Alkmaar 2-1 NAC Breda
FC Groningen 1-1 VVV Venlo
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