The twenty first round of action in the Dutch top flight got underway on Friday evening at the GelreDome where first half goals from Chelsea loanees, Matt Miazga and Mason Mount saw European hopefuls, Vitesse Arnhem claim victory in their encounter with FC Groningen.
Having taken just six minutes to break the deadlock when an untracked Matt Miazga rose highest on the edge of the box to nod home a Lassana Faye cross, the hosts would double their advantage and ultimately wrap up the points thirteen minutes before the break when a low ball from Mitchell van Bergen was beautifully left by Tim Matavz, allowing another man on loan from Stamford Bridge, Mason Mount, to steal a march on the visitor’s wrong-footed backline and claim his fourth goal in his last six games.
The host’s margin of victory might have been even greater were it not for the intervention of first half replacement, Juninho Bacuna, who found himself in the right place at the right time to deny first, Guram Kashia and then a point-blank header from Miazga on the line following a Thomas Bruns corner from the left a minute before the break.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway in Friesland where a 66th minute header from Daniel Høegh ultimately proved enough to earn another side hoping to secure European football at the end of the season – Heerenveen, all three points against struggling FC Twente.
Elsewhere, hat-trick hero, Luuk de Jong was the star of the show as PSV Eindhoven hit an undermanned PEC Zwolle for four to move ten points clear at the top of the table ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
The turning point of the match arrived when Mickey van der Hart – who had been given the nod in the absence of a suspended Diederik Boer, who was given his marching orders in Tuesday’s KNVB Beker quarter final loss at AZ Alkmaar, was sent off by referee, Serdar Gözübüyük after the visiting ‘keeper had sent Hirving Lozano tumbling after haring out of his area to intercept the Mexican international three minutes before the break
It wouldn’t take long for the hosts to make their numerical advantage count – Luuk de Jong rising highest at the back post to nod home a Lozano corner in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half.
Phillip Cocu’s side, who saw their chances of securing a league and cup double dashed by defeat at the hands of Feyenoord in their quarter final tie on Wednesday evening, would double their advantage in the 65th minute when, having drawn the attentions of stand-in stopper, Mike Hauptmeijer, Lozano picked out the head of an unmarked de Jong for the Dutch international to nod just his eighth of the campaign in all competitions into an unguarded net.
Having set up both goals, Lozano then came within a whisker of making it three when his effort came back off the foot of Hauptmeijer’s right hand upright just two minutes later.
However, Lozano’s miss ultimately proved to be just a temporary reprieve for John van ‘t Schip’s beleaguered side who fell further behind eighteen minutes from time when de Jong stabbed home a Joshua Brenet cross from the edge of the box to claim his hat-trick.
Having teed up the host’s third, Brenet then helped himself to number four when substitute, Albert Gudmundsson, who had only been on the field a minute after replacing Steven Bergwijn, set the host’s marauding left back away to claim his first of the season in all competitions twelve minutes from time to condemn the visitors to a second four-goal defeat in as many games while extending PSV’s lead at the top of the table to ten points ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded in Almelo where two sides with designs on crashing the end-of-season UEFA Europa League play-off party shared the spoils.
Having already come close to breaking the deadlock when Lex Immers saw his low drive come back off the foot of Bram Castro’s left hand upright with just three minutes on the clock following an Abdenasser El Khayati corner from the right, the away side would hit the front when a misdirected clearance from Jamiro Monteiro sent Bjørn Johnsen away to fire ADO Den Haag ahead with a thunderous strike from just inside the area that crashed in off the underside of Castro’s crossbar with twenty one minutes on the clock.
However, despite winning three of their last six, Alfons Groenendijk’s side failed to build on their early advantage and would ultimately have to settle for a point against a Heracles outfit whose point last time out in Groningen ended a run of three-straight defeats in all competitions, when Reuven Niemeijer clawed the out-of-form hosts back onto level terms – the 22-year-old picking out the top right hand corner of Robert Zwinkels’ net from just inside the area, nine minutes into the second half.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion where a 77th minute effort from Hicham Faik earned Excelsior a share of the spoils against visiting, FC Utrecht.
Things had begun brightly for the hosts who took the lead in the 22nd minute when Stanley Elbers slid an intended last-ditch clearance from Giovanni Troupee into the back of an unguarded net after David Jensen had hared off his line to meet an onrushing Mike van Duinen.
However, just three minutes later Zakaria Labyad picked out the head of an unmarked Mark van der Maarel at the back post to restore parity and the points appeared to be going the way of Jean-Paul de Jong’s side when Labyad edged the visitors ahead with a well-placed free kick from just outside the area seventeen minutes from time.
However, the away side’s advantage would prove to be short-lived when Hicham Faik turned Rico Strieder inside out and unleashed an unstoppable drive from the edge of the area that left Jensen grasping at thin air to claim a share of the spoils for Mitchell van der Gaag’s men just four minutes later.
Elsewhere, a late Clint Leemans spot kick saw VVV Venlo snatch a memorable victory over reigning champions, Feyenoord.
The game had seemingly been destined to end goalless until Renato Tapia found himself with little choice but to send second half substitute, Romeo Castelen tumbling in the area as the former Feyenoord man bore down on Brad Jones’ net leaving Clint Leemans to send the Australian the wrong way from the resultant penalty kick and bag a famous victory for the hosts two minutes from time.
At the same time, a poorly judged back-pass by Giliano Wijnaldum allowed Fred Friday to steal in and grab a 23rd minute lead that ultimately proved enough to see Sparta Rotterdam edge past fellow strugglers, Willem II to post their first victory under the stewardship of Dick Advocaat and end a run of ten games without a win.
The host’s margin of victory could have been more emphatic had Sander Fischer’s 63rd minute header found the back of the net instead of striking the foot of Mattijs Branderhorst’s left hand upright.
Meanwhile, a 71st minute effort from Borussia Mönchengladbach loanee, Tsiy William Ndenge saw another side struggling at the wrong end of the table – Roda JC, snatch an unlikely point from their encounter with in-form AZ Alkmaar.
Having won four of their last five in all competitions it came as little surprise when the home side edged themselves ahead just before the quarter hour when the unlucky Patrick Banggaard, who was making his debut for the Kerkrade-based outfit after arriving on loan from Darmstadt during the January transfer window, diverted a low Thomas Ouwejan cross into his own net.
However, the host’s lead would last just eight minutes when a Dani Schahin flick-on allowed Jorn Vancamp, who only opened his account for the season a week earlier in Roda’s victory over Excelsior, to escape the attentions of Pantelis Hatzidiakos and bag his second goal of the campaign with a thunderous strike from just inside the area.
Despite finding themselves pegged back the home side would edge themselves ahead once more when Fredrik Midtsjø left Hidde Jurjus rooted to the spot with a spectacular effort from well outside the area nine minutes before the break.
Yet the hosts would ultimately be denied a third-straight victory in all competitions when a low drive from Tsiy William Ndenge marginally crossed the line after hitting the inside of Marco Bizot’s right hand upright nineteen minutes from time.
The twenty first round of action was concluded at the Johan Cruijff ArenA where Ajax got back to winning ways by coming from behind to hit an undermanned NAC Breda for three.
Despite hitting the same opposition for eight without replay when the two sides met in the reverse fixture at the Rat Verlegh Stadion in mid-November, a shock appeared to be on the cards early on when Thierry Ambrose lashed a deflected knock-down from Lucas Schoofs past Andre Onana from the edge of the area with just six minutes on the clock.
However, the visitor’s advantage would last just nineteen minutes when Justin Kluivert, having turned Arno Verschueren inside out, picked out the head of an unmarked Donny van de Beek on the edge of the box before a fine solo effort from David Neres saw the hosts complete the turnaround six minutes before the break – the Brazilian capitalising on a wayward pass from Manu Garcia, gliding past Pablo Mari and holding off the attentions of first, Garcia and then Bart Meijers before beating the visitor’s Australian ‘keeper with a low drive from just outside the area.
Despite taking the lead the home side would make heavy weather of killing the game off until a rash lunge from the already booked Meijers on Hakim Ziyech resulted in the centre half being given his marching orders by referee, Ed Janssen in the first minute of added time before Ziyech curled the resultant free kick past an unsighted Birighitti from just outside the area a minute later to reduce PSV’s advantage at the top of the table to seven points ahead of the season’s second round of midweek fixtures.
Results: Week 21
Vitesse Arnhem 2-0 FC Groningen
SC Heerenveen 1-0 FC Twente
PSV Eindhoven 4-0 PEC Zwolle
Heracles Almelo 1-1 ADO Den Haag
Excelsior 2-2 FC Utrecht
VVV Venlo 1-0 Feyenoord
Sparta Rotterdam 1-0 Willem II
AZ Alkmaar 2-2 Roda JC
AFC Ajax 3-1 NAC Breda
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