The winter break came to an early end for two Eredivisie clubs on Tuesday evening – a lone strike from Chelsea loanee, Mason Mount ultimately proving enough to see visiting, Vitesse Arnhem edge their way back into the UEFA Europa league play-off places after taking all three points from their rearranged Round 15 clash with Sparta Rotterdam at Het Kasteel.
Despite entrusting former bondscoach, Dick Advocaat with guiding them to top flight safety, the 70-year-old failed to procure a winning start to his tenure at the helm of the struggling Rotterdam-based outfit who, following a goalless opening period, fell behind in the 64th minute to what would ultimately prove to be the only goal of the game when an untracked Mason Mount bagged his fourth of the campaign by half-volleying a Milot Rashica cross past a static Roy Kortsmit from mid-way inside the area.
Things might have been different for the hosts, who go into their weekend meeting with local rivals, Excelsior, propping up the rest of the table, had Loris Brogno’s rasping drive from just inside the area found the back of the net instead of coming back off Remko Pasveer’s crossbar fourteen minutes from time.
The nineteenth round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Stadion Galgenwaard where, with Jonas Svensson having capitalised on the host’s inability to clear a Teun Koopmeiners corner by lashing visiting, AZ Alkmaar into a 55th minute lead with a low drive from just outside the area, the points appeared to be going the way of John van den Brom’s high-flying side until sixteen minutes from time when Cyriel Dessers smashed home a deft flick from Zakaria Labyad to earn Jean-Paul de Jong his first point since succeeding Ajax-bound Erik ten Hag as coach of FC Utrecht.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway with a real relegation six-pointer in Kerkrade that, after Haris Vučkić capped a nice give and go with Oussama Assaidi by opening the scoring in the 53rd minute, appeared to be going the way of visitors, FC Twente.
The away side had been unlucky not to be break the deadlock when Hidde Jurjus turned a Tom Boere strike onto the foot of his right hand upright two minutes before the break before the former FC Oss marksman, having capitalised on a slip by Frederic Ananou, saw another effort this time clip the outside of the Roda ‘keeper’s left hand upright as his side looked to double their advantage thirteen minutes into the second half.
However, despite their overall supremacy, Gertjan Verbeek’s men would be denied all three points late on when Roda’s Dani Schahin headed home a Mikhail Rosheuvel cross to salvage a point for the hosts two minutes from time.
Elsewhere, a spectacular Youness Mokhtar strike from well outside the area with just two minutes on the clock ultimately proved enough to see high-flying, PEC Zwolle edge out struggling, NAC Breda at the MAC3PARK Stadion.
At the same time, an 86th minute strike from substitute, Johnatan Opoku saw VVV Venlo deny hosts, ADO Den Haag all three points at the Cars Jeans Stadion.
The result was a bitter pill to swallow for Alfons Groenendijk’s side, who had appeared on course to record what would have been their fourth win in their last five outings after edging themselves ahead in the 23rd minute when Bjørn Johnsen turned a Danny Bakker half volley from just outside the area past a wrong-footed Lars Unnerstall.
Indeed, when Vito van Crooij’s header came back off the foot of Robert Zwinkels’ right hand upright twenty minutes from time it appeared that it just wasn’t to be the away side’s day until second half replacement, Johnatan Opoku was sent clear by a Lennart Thy flick-on to snatch a point for the visitors four minutes from time.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Arnhem where it ended honours even between European hopefuls, Vitesse and Heerenveen.
Having begun the year in the best possible fashion by taking all three points from their rearranged fixture with Sparta Rotterdam on Tuesday evening, the hosts were handed an early lead when the unlucky Daniel Høegh diverted a Mason Mount cross into his own net with thirteen minutes gone.
However, Henk Fraser’s side would ultimately have to make do with a point when, having raced off his line to deny Henk Veerman, Remko Pasveer saw his block land at the feet of Pelle van Amersfoort who promptly curled the ball over the 34-year-old’s head and into the back of his unguarded net to restore parity eight minutes before the break.
Things might have been different for the home side had Thomas Bruns’ speculative effort from just outside the area found the back of Martin Hansen’s net as opposed to striking the visiting ‘keeper’s left hand upright eight minutes from time.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at Het Kasteel where an 86th minute effort from second half replacement, Anouar Hadouir saw Excelsior edge out local rivals, Sparta Rotterdam in a five-goal thriller.
Having seen his side slip to defeat in his first outing as Sparta coach in Tuesday’s rearranged fixture with Vitesse, Dick Advocaat would have been encouraged by the start his new side made to proceedings when the unlucky Milan Massop diverted a Soufyan Ahannach corner into his own net with just two minutes on the clock.
However, it took the visitors just three minutes to claw their way back onto level terms when Ali Messaoud found himself in the right place at the right time to tap the ball into an unguarded net after a Hicham Faik free kick came back off Roy Kortsmit’s left hand upright.
Despite being pegged back, Advocaat’s charges remained undeterred and re-established their advantage from the spot three minutes before the break through Loris Brogno after Massop pulled Julian Chabot to the ground as the two jostled to get on the end of the 25-year-old Belgian’s free kick.
However, the home side’s advantage would again be short-lived when Messaoud popped up to sweep home a Stanley Elbers through-ball from midway inside the area just before the interval.
Try as they might the hosts could not fashion a third and were made to pay four minutes from time when substitute, Anouar Hadouir curled in a well-placed free kick from just outside the area to leave Advocaat’s men rooted to the foot of the table.
Having seen Ritsu Doan edge them ahead with a spectacular strike from just outside the area just short of the quarter hour and Mike te Wierik head a goal-bound Konstantinos Tsimikas effort off the line six minutes before the break, FC Groningen appeared on course to take all three points from their encounter with Willem II until nineteen minutes from time when Wolfsburg loanee, Ismail Azzaoui cut in from the left and found the corner of Sergio Padt’s net with a low drive from just inside the box.
At the same time, Erik ten Hag’s reign as Ajax coach got off to the perfect start as two goals in the space of three second half minutes saw his new side sweep aside the challenge of an undermanned Feyenoord in the season’s second instalment of De Klassieker.
In a relatively uneventful opening half, it was the home side who very nearly took the lead seconds before the break when Brad Jones spilled a Joel Veltman cross into the path of Justin Kluivert whose goal-bound effort was headed off the line by a covering Sven van Beek.
The hosts would continue where they left off after the break and, just five minutes into the second half, ten Hag’s side would edge themselves ahead when new signing, Nicolas Taliafico’s deflected cross fell into the path of Donny van de Beek who had time to take a touch before firing the ball between Jones’s legs and into the back of the net.
Buoyed by van de Beek’s opener, the home side continued to press and would double their advantage just three minutes later when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar nodded home a Veltman cut back from the edge of the box.
Any hopes the reigning Eredivisie champions might have harboured of getting back into the game were dispelled five minutes later when Nicolai Jørgensen was given his marching orders by referee, Bjorn Kuipers after picking up his second caution of the game following a rash challenge on Veltman.
The nineteenth round of Eredivisie action was concluded in Almelo where a 93rd minute strike from Luuk de Jong saw table-topping, PSV Eindhoven edge out hosts, Heracles to restore their five-point advantage at the top of the standings.
With Ajax having cut their lead to two points, Phillip Cocu’s side edged themselves ahead a minute into added time at the end of the first half when Luuk de Jong headed a Hirving Lozano free kick into the path of an unmarked Steven Bergwijn.
However, the away side would find themselves pegged back in the 66th minute when Jeff Hardeveld converted from the spot after Santiago Arias sent Brahim Darri tumbling inside the area.
With time running out it appeared as though the game was set to end all square until three minutes into added time when, having stolen a march on Robin Pröpper, de Jong poked home substitute, Albert Gudmundsson’s cross to snatch all three points and restore PSV’s five-point cushion at the top of the table.
Result: Week 15
Sparta Rotterdam 0-1 Vitesse Arnhem
Results: Week 19
FC Utrecht 1-1 AZ Alkmaar
Roda JC 1-1 FC Twente
PEC Zwolle 1-0 NAC Breda
ADO Den Haag 1-1 VVV Venlo
Vitesse Arnhem 1-1 SC Heerenveen
Sparta Rotterdam 2-3 Excelsior
Willem II 1-1 FC Groningen
AFC Ajax 2-0 Feyenoord
Heracles Almelo 1-2 PSV Eindhoven
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