EREDIVISIE 2017/18 REPORT: Week Five

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The fifth week of action in the Dutch top flight got underway on Friday evening at Het Kasteel where visitors, AZ Alkmaar saw off hosts, Sparta Rotterdam to make it four wins on the bounce thanks to a double from in-form forward, Wout Weghorst.

Image result for Sparta Rotterdam 0-2 AZ Alkmaar

Despite the home side having taken five points from a possible nine from their last three games after slipping up at the hands of newly promoted VVV Venlo on the opening day of the season, it was their guests who made all of the early running and John van den Brom’s side were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead twenty one minutes in when referee, Siemen Mulder pointed to the spot after Sherel Floranus sent a marauding Thomas Ouwejan tumbling inside the area.

However, despite notching four goals in his last four games, AZ’s in-form marksman, Wout Weghorst saw his spot-kick saved by Roy Kortsmit, who then took in the adulation of the crowd after turning the ball around his left hand upright for what appeared to be a corner.

Yet, the eagle-eyed referee’s assistant on the far side ruled that the Sparta ‘keeper had not been stood on his line when the kick had been taken, leaving referee, Mulder to order a retake.

Remarkably, the result would be the same as Kortsmit once more got down smartly to paw away Weghorst’s second attempt, this time to his right.

Despite their early reprieve, Alex Pastoor’s men did eventually find themselves a goal down eleven minutes before the break when Weghorst made amends for his earlier misses from the spot by sweeping home a low corner from the right by Feyenoord loanee, Marko Vejinovic from mid-way inside the area.

Having largely dominated proceeding throughout, it came as little surprise when the away side doubled their advantage just after the hour mark – Iranian international, Alireza Jahanbakhsh teeing up Weghorst for the 25-year-old to notch his sixth goal in just his fifth outing of the season by lashing the ball through the grasp of an unsighted Kortsmit from just inside the area to ultimately move John van den Brom’s side joint-top of the table with only goal difference separating them from first placed, Feyenoord ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion in Rotterdam where a second half comeback from visitors, Heerenveen saw Jurgen Streppel’s side record a third successive victory.

Despite trailing hosts, Excelsior at the break thanks to a stunning eighteenth minute strike by Ryan Koolwijk, who lashed the ball beyond a static Martin Hansen from just outside the area after being teed up by Ali Messaoud, the away side emerged with purpose for the second half and were back on level terms just five minutes after the resumption – Morten Thorsby stabbing the ball back for Arber Zeneli to tuck the ball beyond the despairing dive of the host’s Icelandic stopper, Ögmundur Kristinsson from just side the area.

Having pulled his side back onto level terms, Heerenveen’s Kosovar international went close to doubling the away side’s advantage when he saw his speculative drive from well outside the area cannon back off Kristinsson’s left hand upright just after the hour mark.

Heerenveen went into this encounter as one of only two sides in the Dutch top flight yet to taste defeat this term and that confidence was clear to see when, having restored parity, Streppel’s side pressed on for a winner which duly arrived twenty minutes from time – Marco Rojas cutting in from the right before laying the ball off to Real Madrid loanee, Martin Ødegaard who in turn fed Iranian international, Reza Ghoochannejhad whose through ball presented the New Zealander with the opportunity to evade the attentions of both Milan Massop and Jurgen Mattheij and squeeze the ball between an onrushing Kristinsson and the Iceland international’s near post.

Despite the home side desperately searching for an equaliser, it was the visitors who went closest to finding the back of the net in the closing stages when Ødegaard cut in from the left and hit the by-line before teeing up Ghoochannejhad whose effort from just inside the area clipped the top of Kristinsson’s crossbar a minute from time.

Having both endured a torrid opening to the campaign something had to give in Kerkrade where two sides yet to post a point this season went head to head, with guests, Willem II taking all three points to leave hosts, Roda JC rooted to the foot of the table.

A scintillating first half performance by Erwin van de Looi’s men effectively had their first points of the campaign in the bag by half time, the visitors having gotten off to the perfect start with just five minutes on the clock when new signing, Etien Velikonja half-volleyed the ball past an exposed Hidde Jurjus at the back post after a Jop van der Linden free kick had sparked chaos in the home side’s area.

The visitors doubled their advantage eighteen minutes later when Liverpool loanee, Pedro Chirivella set compatriot, Fran Sol clear to slot the ball beyond Jurjus before the Spanish forward then turned provider to set up Velikonja’s second just after the half hour mark with a pinpoint square ball from the right side of the visitor’s area after being found by an incisive through ball by Thom Haye.

Despite Mikhail Rosheuvel pulling a goal back for Robert Molenaar’s beleaguered side a minute into added time at the end of the half – Anderlecht loanee, Jorn Vancamp spear-heading a swift counter-attack by the hosts before setting the 27-year-old away to slot the ball past an exposed Timon Wellenreuther, the hosts ultimately failed to avert a fifth successive defeat.

Things might have been different for the hosts had an own goal from Jordens Peters three minutes into the second half not been ruled out by referee, Pol van Boekel who adjudged Tsiy William Ndenge’s cutback to have crossed the by-line before going in off the unwitting Willem II centre half or substitute, Dani Schahin’s effort from the edge of the box found the back of the net instead of clipping the top of Wellenreuther’s crossbar fifteen minutes from time.

Elsewhere on Saturday evening, Eredivisie new boys, NAC Breda secured their first win since regaining their top flight status by seeing off visitors, FC Groningen at the Rat Verlegh Stadion.

Following a goalless opening period, two goals in as many minutes from Rai Vloet set the home side on the road to victory – the former PSV Eindhoven midfielder lashing the ball past Sergio Padt from just outside the area after being slipped in by an incisive through ball from Manchester City loanee, Angelino thirteen minutes into the second half before capitalising on a poor clearance on the edge of the area by Django Warmerdam to double the home side’s advantage on the hour.

Despite Mimoun Mahi reducing the arrears with his fourth of the campaign twenty minutes from time when a pinpoint pass over the top of the home defence by Ruben Jenssen found Mahi with the time and space to volley the ball past Breda’s newly recruited Australian stopper, Mark Birighitti from the edge of the box, in the end, the hosts weren’t to be denied their first win since reclaiming their seat at Dutch football’s top table.

However things could have been different had referee, Danny Makkelie not ruled out Mahi’s second in the third minute of added time after Groningen ‘keeper, Padt had caused chaos in the Breda area by heading an Oussama Idrissi free kick back into the mixer for Etienne Reijnen to flick the ball on for the marginally offside 23-year-old to volley home from close range.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Zwolle where John van ‘t Schip’s side left it late to record their third win of the season and temporarily edge into the top four.

The hosts were quickly out of the blocks and took the lead with just four minutes gone when, having been found in space wide on the left by Piotr Parzyszek, Youness Mokhtar was allowed to sprint half the length of the field before cutting inside Robin Pröpper and firing the ball past an exposed Bram Castro.

However, when Jamiro Monteiro’s deflected free kick pulled Heracles level twelve minutes from time, it appeared as though the visitors would leave with a point.

That was until Mokhtar popped up with what ultimately proved to be the winner in the 85th minute – the 26-year-old cutting inside both Tim Breukers and substitute, Peter van Ooijen before beating Castro with a low drive from just inside the area after having initially been set away down the left by a deft no-look pass from Stef Nijland.

Image result for ADO Den Haag 1-1 AFC Ajax

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway in The Hague where Ajax’s early season struggles resurfaced once more at the hands of ADO Den Haag – Marcel Keizer’s side being forced to make do with a point after squandering a first half lead.

Things looked to be going the away side’s way when Dutch international, Joel Veltman put the visitors into the lead shortly before the half hour mark – the Ajax skipper getting his head to an in-swinging Hakim Ziyech free kick from the right in the 28th minute.

However, having secured their first points of the season last time out after opening the campaign with three successive defeats, Alfons Groenendijk’s side emerged for the second half with renewed purpose and, having narrowly avoided going two-down when Frenkie de Jong rattled Robert Zwinkels’ crossbar five minutes after the restart, the hosts very nearly clawed their way back onto level terms when substitute Erik Falkenburg saw his speculative drive from just outside the area cannon back off Andre Onana’s crossbar in the 66th minute.

With the home side’s confidence growing visibly with every attack, it came as little surprise when the hosts did eventually restore parity nineteen minutes from time – Sheraldo Becker squaring an over-hit Aaron Meijers cross from the left back into the box from the right hand by-line for ADO’s Norwegian forward, Bjørn Johnsen to lash the ball past a helpless Onana from close range.

Try as they might the visitors failed to find a winning goal thereafter – a deflected Lasse Schone’s effort that rattled Zwinkels’ crossbar nine minutes from time ultimately proving to be the closest Ajax would come to denying their hosts a well-deserved share of the spoils.

Despite going into their encounter with FC Utrecht without a point to their name, hosts, FC Twente stunned their high-flying guests by hitting them for four on Sunday afternoon.

Having endured four successive defeats, few gave Rene Hake’s side much of a chance against an FC Utrecht side that had not only won three of its opening four league fixtures but had also given Zenit St. Petersburg a torrid time in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League.

Yet, it was the hosts who were out of the blocks first – Tom Boere latching onto a perfectly weighted ball over the top of the visiting defence by centre half, Peet Bijen before catching Utrecht’s onrushing glovesman, David Jensen in no-man’s-land with a delightful lob from just inside the area.

Having scored just twice in their four outings thus far, the hosts then doubled their goal tally for the season just nine minutes later – Nottingham Forest loanee, Thomas Lam rising highest to head a Michael Liendl corner from the right past a static Jensen.

The hosts continued to make light of their troubles in front of goal by adding a third ten minutes before the break – KSC Lokeren loanee, Luciano Slagveer slotting the ball past an exposed Jensen after being slipped in by an incisive through-ball from Boere.

Try as they might, Erik ten Hag’s side failed to find a foothold in the match and their misery was compounded when they fell further behind fifteen minutes from time.

Having had a goal ruled out for offside by referee, Jochem Kamphuis just two minutes earlier, Oussama Assaidi quickly made amends – the 29-year-old picking up a Slagveer pull-back from the right just inside the area and escaping the attentions of Yassin Ayoub before slotting the ball past Jensen from the edge of the box to add the host’s fourth of the afternoon with a quarter of an hour to go.

For the second time in as many weeks Eredivisie new boys, VVV Venlo left it late to snatch a priceless point on the road, this time in Arnhem.

Despite losing out to Lazio in the opening group stage fixture of their UEFA Europa League campaign, things looked to be going the way of hosts Vitesse – who begin their defence of the KNVB Beker with a trip to fifth tier outfit, AVV Swift in the first round of the competition on Wednesday evening, when Tim Matavz put Henk Fraser’s side into the ascendancy two minutes into the second half – the Slovenian international capitalising on a wayward pass from half time substitute, Johnatan Opoku to steal a march on the visitor’s central defensive pairing of Nils Röseler and Jerold Promes before slotting the ball past an exposed Lars Unnerstall.

However, after having Arsenal loanee, Kelechi Nwakali to thank for salvaging an unlikely point in the first minute of added time in Groningen last time out, Maurice Steijn’s newly promoted side again left it late to secure another valuable point on the road – referee, Dennis Higler adjudging Guram Kashia to have held back Röseler in the area as the two battled to reach a Clint Leemans free kick with just a minute of the ninety left to play, leaving Leemans to convert the resultant spot-kick in the last minute of normal time.

Image result for PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Feyenoord

There was little doubt as to the match of the round as league leaders and reigning Eredivisie champions, Feyenoord made to trip to the Philips Stadion to face PSV Eindhoven.

Having been hit for four by Manchester City at De Kuip in their first match in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for fifteen years on Wednesday night, Giovanni van Bronckhorst was looking for a positive response from his side on Sunday afternoon.

However, the smoke from the pre-match fireworks had scarcely begun to clear when the hosts drew first blood with just two minutes on the clock – Gaston Pereiro volleying a Jurgen Locadia cross from the left past Brad Jones from just outside the box.

Having found themselves placed firmly under the cosh by their hosts early on and with the frustrating events of Wednesday evening still fresh in the visiting players’ minds, things soon began to boil over – referee, Bjorn Kuipers somewhat leniently showing Steven Berghuis a yellow card as opposed to a straight red just past the quarter hour mark after the former Watford man had recklessly lunged two-footed into a tackle with Luuk de Jong on half way – a challenge which resulted in the Dutch international leaving the field and later being taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs.

Despite their slow start, the visitors gradually worked their way back into the contest and were unlucky not to find themselves back on level terms when Jens Toornstra saw his free kick from just outside the area come back off Jeroen Zoet’s left hand upright shortly before the half hour mark.

Having seen their lead remain intact by the smallest of margins, the hosts very nearly doubled their advantage five minutes before the break but for Locadia to see his volley from just outside the box collide with the inside of the post before ricocheting into Feyenoord’s Australian glovesman, Jones, who then managed to claw the ball to safety.

Having gotten off rather lightly earlier in the half, Berghuis failed to make it to the interval – Kuipers giving the 25-year-old his marching orders two minutes before the break for blatantly pulling back Jorrit Hendrix just inside the visitor’s half.

Despite finding the odds stacked against them, Feyenoord refused to surrender and the away side could have escaped with what would have been a remarkable point had Toornstra put a Jean-Paul Boëtius cut-back from the right by-line into the back of an unguarded net as opposed to inexplicably clearing the bar with the goal at his mercy twenty minutes from time.

Yet, in the end it was Phillip Cocu’s side that emerged from the season’s first showpiece fixture with all three points to leave PSV in second place in the standings with only goal difference now separating them from reigning champions, Feyenoord in first.

Results Week 5

Sparta Rotterdam 0-2 AZ Alkmaar

Excelsior 1-2 SC Heerenveen

Roda JC 1-3 Willem II

NAC Breda 2-1 FC Groningen

PEC Zwolle 2-1 Heracles

ADO Den Haag 1-1 AFC Ajax

FC Twente 4-0 FC Utrecht

Vitesse Arnhem 1-1 VVV Venlo

PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Feyenoord

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