EREDIVISIE 2017/18 REPORT: Week Nine

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Following another tough week for the Netherlands’ representatives in continental competition, the ninth round of action in the Dutch top flight got underway on Friday evening at the Noordlease Stadion where visitors, Willem II made it two wins on the bounce with a lone strike from Fran Sol ultimately proving enough to see off undermanned hosts, FC Groningen.

Buoyed by picking up just their second league win of the campaign last time out against FC Twente, Erwin van de Looi’s side were out of the blocks quickly and might have broken the deadlock in the third minute only for Thom Haye to see his long range effort from well outside the area cannon off Sergio Padt’s crossbar and away to safety.

Two bookings in the space of four first half minutes for Groningen’s Ajdin Hrustic not only led to the Australian international’s dismissal with just twenty three minutes on the clock – referee, Allard Lindhout being left with little choice but to award the 21-year-old a second yellow card when, having earlier been booked for a late challenge on Konstantinos Tsimikas,  Hrustic then clearly handled a long ball from Samir Memisevic before putting it petulantly into the back of the net, it also proved to be the turning point as the midfielder’s sending off handed the away side an advantage which they would exploit by taking the lead, and ultimately all three points just ten minutes later when Fran Sol slid home a low Fernando Lewis cross from the right after the 24-year-old had been sent clear by an incisive ball from Liverpool loaneee, Pedro Chirivella, to notch his sixth goal of the campaign and leave the away side level on points with their hosts come the final whistle.

The away side might have added to the margin of their victory in the second half but van de Looi’s men were denied on two occasions by the woodwork when first, centre half, Jordens Peters saw a side-footed effort following a corner from Jop van der Linden cannon off the foot of Padt’s right hand upright four minutes after the restart before Haye was then denied by the frame of the goal for the second time on the night when he saw his goal-bound header turned onto the underside of the crossbar by the Groningen ‘keeper five minutes later following another van der Linden corner from the left.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Rat Verlegh Stadion where visitors, PEC Zwolle temporarily edged into second place in the standings after securing their fifth win of the campaign at the expense of struggling hosts, NAC Breda.

Having come within inches of taking the lead in the 37th minute when a Younes Namli effort from just outside the box deflected off Menno Koch and onto Mark Birighitti’s left hand upright, John van ‘t Schip’s side took control of the match shortly before the break when referee, Martin van den Kerkhof, having seen Koch blatantly pull back  Mustafa Saymak after the midfielder had robbed the home skipper just inside the host’s area, awarded the away side a penalty, leaving Bram van Polen to dispatch the resultant spot kick in the second minute of added time.

The visitors almost doubled their advantage fourteen minutes from time but, having pounced upon a poor pass from Mounir El Allouchi, Saymak saw his low drive from just inside the area cannon back off Birighitti’s right hand upright.

However, the 24-year-old wasn’t to be denied and eight minutes from time Saymak notched his second of the campaign – side-footing home a Youness Mokhtar cross from the left from just outside the box.

The hosts went close to reducing the arrears in the second minute of added time when Diederik Boer had to be at full stretch to palm a free kick from substitute, Paolo Fernandes onto the bar.

Elsewhere on Saturday evening, a late Craig Goodwin effort four minutes from time salvaged a point for Sparta Rotterdam in their derby clash with local rivals Excelsior at the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion.

With five points separating the two Rotterdam sides coming into this encounter it was the hosts who, buoyed by bagging all three points last time out in The Hague, took the lead nine minutes into the second half when a Milan Massop effort from just inside the area took a wicked deflection off the outstretched right boot of Sander Fischer.

Mitchell van der Gaag’s men appeared to be on course for a second win in as many games until Australian international, Goodwin lashed home a well-placed free kick to earn the visitors a share of the spoils four minutes from time.

It might have been even better for Alex Pastoor’s side had referee, Siemen Mulder not waved away what looked to be a clear-cut penalty when Excelsior skipper, Ryan Koolwijk sent Ryan Sanusi tumbling inside the area in the third minute of added time.

At the same time ADO Den Haag were putting last week’s slip up at the hands of Excelsior behind them by picking up their fourth win of the season in a clash of two early season surprise packages at De Koel.

With twelve points already in the bag, newly promoted VVV Venlo have been a revelation over the course of the opening eight weeks of the campaign and Maurice Steijn’s side came close to breaking the deadlock with just six minutes on the clock when Werder Bremen loanee, Lennart Thy struck both of Robert Zwinkels’ uprights in quick succession with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Having narrowly escaped falling behind early in the first half, the away side would emerge for the second with an added spring in their step and would eventually be the ones to edge ahead in the 66th minute when Tyronne Ebuehi capped a marauding run by hitting the by-line and teeing up Erik Falkenburg who beat Lars Unnerstall with a delightful volley from the edge of the box.

Alfons Groenendijk’s side would seal all three points in the third minute of added time when substitute, Thijmen Goppel brought a long raking ball from Aaron Meijers under control just outside the area before teeing up fellow replacement, Björn Johnsen, for the Norwegian forward’s third of the campaign.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Enschede where hosts, FC Twente got back to winning ways at the expense of bottom-of-the-table, Roda JC.

Following Rene Hake’s resignation on Wednesday, interim coach, Marino Pusic saw his troops handed the opportunity to put last week’s defeat in Tilburg behind them with just twenty five minutes on the clock when referee, Serdar Gözübüyük awarded the home side a penalty after seeing Chris Kum send Oussama Assaidi tumbling inside the area, leaving the Moroccan international to get up and dust himself down before slamming home the resultant spot kick.

The 29-year-old would double the home side’s advantage twelve minutes into the second half when a Tom Boere cross from the right found Luciano Slagveer on the edge of the box who, despite being in an offside position when the ball was played, then teed up Assaidi for his fourth of the campaign.

Despite coming into this encounter on the back of two straight victories in the league and level on points with hosts, Twente, Robert Molenaar’s side were largely second best throughout and fell further behind seventeen minutes from time when Tom Boere headed a   corner from the right against Hidde Jurjus’ crossbar with the rebound falling invitingly for an unmarked Peet Bijen to stab the ball into an unguarded net from close range to round off a victory that saw the home side climb to twelfth in the standings.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Philips Stadion where top-of-the-table, PSV Eindhoven recorded a sixth straight victory in all competitions by hitting 10-man Heracles for three.

Having missed last week’s away victory in Venlo with an elbow injury sustained while away on international duty with Mexico, it took the fit-again Hirving Lozano just eighteen minutes to announce his return by breaking the deadlock after being slipped in on goal by an incisive through ball from Jorrit Hendrix.

Despite dominating proceedings it took the home side until twelve minutes from time to double their advantage – Mauro Junior heading a Hendrix cross from the left into the path of skipper, Marco van Ginkel for the man on loan from Chelsea to stab the ball home from close range.

Things soon went from bad to worse for John Stegeman’s side when a shove from Robin Pröpper on PSV substitute, Albert Gudmundsson as the centre half endeavoured to safeguard the ball back to his goalkeeper resulted in the 24-year-old being issued a straight red card by referee, Ed Janssen before van Ginkel stepped up to claim his second and the home side’s third of the afternoon from the resultant spot kick.

PSV’S victory meant that reigning champions, Feyenoord and last season’s UEFA Europa League finalists, Ajax went into Sunday afternoon’s Klassieker at De Kuip eight points adrift of Phillip Cocu’s side.

Following a goalless opening period, an understandably tense and tight affair suddenly sprang to life five minutes after the restart when David Neres capitalised upon a loose pass by Sofyan Amrabat just outside the host’s area to send Klaas-Jan Huntelaar through for the veteran marksman to lash the ball beyond an onrushing Brad Jones and notch his ninth goal in the history of this storied fixture – a goal which saw his name etched alongside Johan Cruyff, Jaap Barendregt and Marco van Basten, who each also achieved the feat.

However, when Matthijs de Ligt sent a marauding Ridgeciano Haps tumbling in the area right under the nose of referee, Danny Makkelie the official had little choice but to point to the spot. Yet, despite topping the Eredivisie goal-scoring charts last term, Nicolai Jørgensen saw his spot kick saved by Andre Onana while Jens Toornstra could only put the rebound into the crowd.

Nevertheless, the Danish international’s miss proved to be just a temporary reprieve for Marcel Keizer’s side, as Jørgensen went some way to redeeming himself by capitalising on a mix-up between Onana and de Ligt just outside the visitor’s area to pick out the untracked run of Toornstra who exorcised his own demons by slamming the ball high into the roof of the Cameroon international’s net.

Having seen their hopes of continuing in any form of continental competition beyond the winter break effectively ended following defeat at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday evening, the home side came close to getting their season back on track just five minutes later when a Tonny Vilhena effort from just inside the box shaved the outside of Onana’s right hand upright.

However, it was the visitors who would restore their advantage nineteen minutes from time when substitute, Kasper Dolberg put what has been an underwhelming campaign to date behind him to turn the game the way of the away side by posting what was just the 20-year-old’s first league goal of the season when, having held off the attentions of Haps to hit the by-line following an incisive through-ball from Hakim Ziyech, Neres picked out the untracked run of Ajax’s Danish starlet, who duly slotted the ball past an exposed Jones from just inside the box.

With Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s injury-ravaged side desperately searching for an equaliser, another replacement, Siem de Jong, having been sent clear by a well-timed through ball from Neres, claimed the his first goal since returning to the club at the end of August two minutes from time to effectively end any thoughts of a comeback from the hosts before Dolberg rubbed salt into the defending champions’ wounds by claiming his second and the visitor’s fourth of the afternoon in the 90th minute when a long diagonal pass from Nick Viergever set the young Dane away to poke the ball over an onrushing Jones.

At the same time, AZ Alkmaar ended a run of three games without a win by hitting FC Utrecht for three at the AFAS Stadion.

The hosts were out of the blocks quickly and took the lead with just twenty one minutes on the clock when Alireza Jahanbakhsh teed up Teun Koopmeiners for the 19-year-old to drill the ball low and hard beyond the outstretched arm of David Jensen in the visitor’s net from well outside the area to post his first goal in the Dutch top flight in just what was just his second appearance at first team level.

The visitors came close to restoring parity when, having beaten Marco Bizot to a Robin van der Meer cross from the left,  Lukas Görtler saw his looping header come back off the top of the stranded ‘keeper’s crossbar eight minutes before the break.

Having been somewhat fortunate to see their lead remain intact, Jahanbakhsh very nearly doubled the home side’s advantage when he saw his speculative drive from well outside the area cannon off Jensen’s crossbar a minute before the break.

Galvanised by their half time lead, the hosts hit the woodwork for a second time seven minutes after the resumption when Wout Weghorst saw his right footed drive from just outside the area rattle Jensen’s left hand upright with the visitor’s Danish stopper left rooted to the spot.

Having gone close to adding to the home side’s lead just before the interval, Jahanbakhsh would eventually double the host’s advantage shortly after the hour mark with a crisp half volley when a Thomas Ouwejan cross from the left found the unchecked run of the Iranian international midway inside the visitor’s area before the 24-year-old rounded off a stand-out performance by slipping in Joris van Overeem, who bagged the host’s third of the afternoon with a neat outside of the foot finish ten minutes from time.

The ninth round of Eredivisie action was concluded in Friesland where, fresh from picking up a first point in group play in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening, Vitesse Arnhem hit freefalling Heerenveen for four.

Despite having begun the season in impressive fashion, Jurgen Streppel’s side came into this encounter on the back of two straight defeats and when Navarone Foor caught the hosts sleeping by latching onto a knock-down from Tim Matavz on the edge of the area before drawing an exposed Martin Hansen and picking out Milot Rashica at the back post for the Kosovar international to slide the ball into an empty net with just seventeen minutes on the clock, the home side may have felt like history was repeating itself.

Indeed, having shipped seven goals in their last two league outings ahead of this encounter the home side’s confidence was noticeably brittle and Steppel’s men soon found themselves with a proverbial mountain to climb when Bryan Linssen muscled his way in at the back post to side-foot a Frankaty Dabo cross from the right past a helpless Hansen and double the visitor’s advantage nine minutes before the break.

Just five minutes into the second half things went from bad to worse for the hosts when a poor pass from Kik Pierie on half-way led to a swift counter attack from the visitors being rounded off by Linssen picking out Foor on the edge of the box for the 25-year-old to squeeze the ball underneath Hansen and into the back of the net for the away side’s third of the afternoon.

Despite Reza Ghoochannejhad seeing his goal-bound header cleared off the line by Chelsea loanee, Matt Miazga six minutes later, a comeback never really seemed to be on the cards for the hosts and any lingering hopes of a fight-back harboured by the home faithful were dispelled eighteen minutes from time when Matavz slid home the away side’s fourth of the afternoon after Denzel Dumfries’ intended clearance fell invitingly for the Slovenian international following a free kick from Alexander Büttner.

Results: Week 9

FC Groningen 0-1 Willem II

NAC Breda 0-2 PEC Zwolle

Excelsior 1-1 Sparta Rotterdam

VVV Venlo 0-2 ADO Den Haag

FC Twente 3-0 Roda JC

PSV Eindhoven 3-0 Heracles Almelo

Feyenoord 1-4 AFC Ajax

AZ Alkmaar 3-0 FC Utrecht

SC Heerenveen 0-4 Vitesse Arnhem

Name-StevenDavies

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