City deliver a sad UCL return for Feyenoord


Group F

Feyenoord 0-4 Manchester City

De Kuip

Wednesday 13th September 2017

Feyenoord’s first appearance in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for fifteen years swiftly turned into a nightmare on Wednesday night as the reigning Eredivisie champions were hit four by a merciless Manchester City in front of a stunned De Kuip.

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Despite coming into the clash with Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Citizens on the back of a 100% start to the campaign, coach, Giovanni van Bronckhorst was unable to call upon a number of key faces including star striker, Nicolai Jørgensen, who limped off in the early stages of Feyenoord’s win over Heracles on Saturday evening with a hamstring problem.

As a result, the hosts adopted an unfamiliar 5-2-3 formation with van Bronckhorst, as expected, recalling centre half, Eric Botteghin after the Brazilian sat out Saturday’s trip to Almelo while also somewhat surprisingly favouring Sofyan Amrabat in the starting XI over Kevin Diks and Jens Toornstra, who were dropped to the bench.

Having hit Liverpool for five last time out and boasting an unbeaten record of their own thus far this term, Guardiola’s men arrived in Rotterdam in confident mood, determined to erase the memory of last season’s round of 16 exit from European club football’s elite competition at the hands of Monaco on the away goals rule.

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This determination was clear for all too see as the visitors broke the deadlock in just the second minute of the match – John Stones out-jumping Jan-Arie van der Heijden to direct a David Silva cross from the left beyond both Feyenoord ‘keeper, Brad Jones and Tonny Vilhena, who failed to clear the England international’s headed effort off the line despite being perfectly placed to do so at the back post.

With the hosts rocking on their heels in front of a stunned home crowd, the away side soon threatened to double their advantage and very nearly did so just five minutes after taking the lead. However, Botteghin was on hand to snuff out the danger by heading compatriot, Gabriel Jesus’ looping goal-bound header off the line and over the bar after Jones was left rooted to the spot.

Having escaped by the skin of their teeth just three minutes earlier, Feyenoord did fall further behind ten minutes in when, having gotten free down the right, England international full back, Kyle Walker found Sergio Agüero on the edge of the box who, having escaped the attentions of his would-be marker, Botteghin, fired the ball beyond an exposed Jones to double the away side’s advantage.

Despite having been put firmly under the cosh for the opening twenty minutes of the contest the home side did eventually show signs of life when Jean-Paul Boëtius slipped Michiel Kramer in behind the City back line only for the man filling in for the injured Jørgensen to see his effort turned behind by visiting ‘keeper, Ederson, who was sporting a skull cap to protect extensive facial injuries sustained during a horrific clash with Sadio Mane in his side’s Premier League thrashing of Liverpool on Saturday.

However, any hopes the hosts may have harboured of staging a dramatic fight-back were dispelled in the twenty fifth minute when Jones could only parry a vicious low drive from Benjamin Mendy into the path of an unmarked Gabriel Jesus, who was left with the simple task of tapping the ball into an unguarded net as the home side appealed in vain for offside.

With the visitors firmly in control tempers began to fray amongst the home side with Jerry St. Juste, Kramer and Vilhena all going into the book of Polish referee, Szymon Marciniak as the temporary respite of the interval approached.

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Despite Guardiola’s side noticeably easing off the throttle after the break as they turned their attention towards a potentially tricky trip to Watford on Saturday, their hosts never really looked like getting onto the scoresheet and with the visitors threatening to further extend their advantage with every attack, it came as little surprise when the away side made it four and effectively ended the game as a contest shortly after the hour mark – Stones heading home his second of the night from close range with sixty three minutes on the clock after being picked out by Kevin De Bruyne following a neat give-and-go between the Belgian international and David Silva on the left.

Having been thoroughly out-played in front of their own fans, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side face a daunting trip to Naples on 26th September in their next UEFA Champions League engagement.

But before that hurdle comes one of the showpiece encounters of the Dutch season as Feyenoord make the trip to Eindhoven to face PSV on Sunday – a game which offers van Bronckhorst’s charges a welcome opportunity to erase the memory of what was an underwhelming performance in the club’s first UEFA Champions League group stage fixture for fifteen years.

 Man of the Match: John Stones (Manchester City)        


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Danes conquer but Ajax grab vital away goal





FC Copenhagen took a step closer to a place in the quarter finals of the UEFA Europa League after an Andreas Cornelius strike just short of the hour mark edged the Danish champions ahead of four-time European champions, Ajax in the 1st leg of their round of 16 encounter.

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However, Peter Bosz’s men become the first side to score at the Telia Parken since 20th August and, in the process, snagged a priceless away goal ahead of the return leg at the Amsterdam ArenA on 16th March.

The Ajax coach was forced to shuffle his cards ahead of this round of 16 encounter with both Colombian centre half, Davinson Sanchez and Dutch international, Joel Veltman ruled out through suspension for the visitors. Having featured against Groningen at the weekend, 17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt retained his place at centre half alongside the returning Nick Viergever, while Bosz also drafted in Kenny Tete – who was again free for selection following his dismissal in the 1st leg of Ajax’s round of 32 tie with Legia Warsaw which had seen the Dutch international sit out the return leg in which the Lancers had squeezed past the Polish champions by virtue of a solitary strike by Viergever.

Having lost just once this season in all competitions – coming up short against reigning Premier League champions, Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the UEFA Champions League on 18th October, Stale Solbakken’s side roared out of the blocks and caught their illustrious visitors cold –taking the lead with less than a minute on the clock after a well-weighted dink over the top of the visitor’s shuffled rear guard by William Kvist found the untracked run of Rasmus Falk Jensen who took the pass in his stride before firing the ball hard and low across the face of Ajax’s exposed ‘keeper, Andre Onana and into the back of the net to put the hosts into the ascendancy with just 27 seconds on the clock.

With Moroccan winger, Youssef Toutouh having already dragged a pair of chances wide of Onana’s right hand upright, the hosts – who finished third in a UEFA Champions League group that, in addition to Leicester, had included Porto and Club Brugge to earn a place in European club football’s second tier competition, where they had negotiated their way past Bulgarian outfit, Ludogorets in the round of 32, threatened to extend their lead further just short of the half hour mark but Paraguayan forward, Federico Santander failed to make Viergever pay for a sloppy piece of distribution – firing the ball wide of Onana’s left hand upright after finding himself one-on-one with the visiting glovesman.

With the away side having immediately found themselves on the back foot, Peter Bosz’s men rallied admirably as the opening half wore on and struck an important mental blow in the tie by becoming the first side to score at the Telia Parken since a strike by Christian Bassogog ultimately earned a point for AaB in a Danish Superliga encounter against the reigning Danish champions on 20th August – Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore cutting in from the right and slipping in Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen whose cross was finished superbly by Kasper Dolberg – the Danish starlet making his compatriots pay with a spectacular bicycle kick despite the attentions of Peter Ankersen on the edge of the box with 32 minutes on the clock.

The sides would go in all square at the break despite Falk Jensen having the ball in the back of the visitor’s net again just before the break – the 25-year-old seeing his effort ruled out after Santander had been adjudged to be in an offside position during the build-up by referee, Artur Dias Soares.

Yet, this would prove to be just a temporary reprieve for the 33-time Dutch champions who – despite making a bright start to the second half found themselves trailing once more as their hosts re-established their superiority just short of the hour mark – Ankersen burning off the attentions of Daley Sinkgraven on the right before picking out Cornelius who – having out-muscled de Ligt, beat Onana with a towering header in the 59th minute.

With both sides having squandered chances in the closing stages, the visitors did have the ball in the back of their host’s net three minutes from time. Yet, Dolberg’s 87th minute header was ruled out by referee, Soares who adjudged that the 19-year-old had pushed Uros Matic in the back prior to beating Robin Olsen in the Copenhagen goal.

The decision didn’t sit well with the Ajax players – least of all skipper, Klaassen who talked himself into the book of the Portuguese official – earning a yellow card that will now rule the influential Dutch international out of the return leg in Amsterdam in a week’s time.

Man of the Match: Uros Matic


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Russians eliminate second Dutch side out of UCL

FC Rostov sealed qualification to the latter stages of a major European competition for the first time in club history after holding former European Cup winners, PSV Eindhoven to a goalless draw at the Philips Stadion on Tuesday evening reports Steven Davies.

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The Russian side who had also knocked out Ajax at the playoff round of the competition earlier in the season came into this encounter with the back-to-back Eredivisie champions off the back of a remarkable success over Bayern Munich and, despite a place in the latter stages of European club football’s elite competition being out of reach, knew that a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League would be theirs as long as they avoided defeat in Eindhoven.

 For Phillip Cocu’s men, who came into this meeting propping up Group D with just the solitary point earned from the 2-2 draw in Rostov on 28th September to their name, nothing less than a win would suffice as the reigning champion’s indifferent league form had seen them fall six points off the pace set by title rivals, Feyenoord and Ajax and tumble out of the KNVB Beker in embarrassing fashion at the hands of newly promoted Sparta Rotterdam.

Following a lacklustre goalless draw at relegation threatened, Roda on Saturday evening, the PSV coach opted to switch to a back three with Joshua Brenet coming in at the expense of Siem de Jong while Steven Bergwijn partnered Luuk de Jong up front with Gaston Pereiro surprisingly dropping to the bench.

Cocu’s opposite number, Ivan Danilyants meanwhile unsurprisingly opted for the same eleven that had so famously seen off Bayern Munich in their last outing in the competition on 23rd November which included a front two of Dmitriy Poloz and Iranian international, Sardar Azmoun who, if you include the qualifying rounds, had netted nine goals between them in the competition thus far this season.

Despite their need for victory, the home side failed to create a clean cut chance until a minute into added time at the end of the first half when French centre half, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin climbed highest to get on the end of an Oleksandr Zinchenko corner only to send his header wide of Soslan Dzhanaev’s near post.

The visitors meanwhile had shown little by way of attacking intent themselves with the Russian’s best chance falling to Poloz – the Russian international losing Isimat-Mirin before dragging his attempt wide of Jeroen Zoet’s near post seven minutes before the interval.

Coming into this crunch encounter, the statistics certainly favoured a close contest of few chances with PSV boasting the best defence in the Eredivisie but also the worst goal-scoring record of any of the top seven sides in the Netherlands, while despite only CSKA having conceded less goals than Rostov in the Russian top flight this term the visitors had scored just 19 times in 17 league games.

As such it came as little surprise that the first shot on target from either side didn’t arrive until Azmoun worked Zoet in the 67th minute – the Dutch international ’keeper having to be on his toes to parry a snap-shot from the edge of the box.

Frustration began to creep in as the former European Cup winners continued to find chances hard to come by – Steven Bergwijn seeing his deflected effort easily fielded by Rostov glovesman, Dzhanaev with a quarter of an hour left to play before substitute, Luciano Narsingh got free down the right and fired the ball across the face of the goal to the feet of fellow replacement, Siem de Jong whose fierce effort was repelled by the visiting ‘keeper.

With time rapidly becoming the enemy, the hosts had one final golden opportunity to clinch a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League when another substitute, Gaston Pereiro got on the end of a lofted ball by Brenet in the visitor’s box – the Uruguayan being denied by an alert Dzhanaev who was quickly off his line to snuff out the opportunity before Bart Ramselaar saw his goal-bound follow-up cleared off the line by Vladimir Granat in the 86th minute.

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However, as so often this season, PSV’s inability to find the back of the net would ultimately prove their undoing as Rostov progressed into the latter stages of a major European club competition for the first time in club history at the expense of the reigning Eredivisie title-holders.

Man of the Match: Miha Mevlja  


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German powerhouses too strong for PSV

Five time European champions, Bayern Munich eased past PSV Eindhoven – hitting the Dutch champions for four with Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben all on target for Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the Allianz Arena in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening reports Steven Davies.




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On a cold and wet night in Munich, PSV Eindhoven, whose sole European Cup triumph in 1988 had come on German soil – in Stuttgart, where they had overthrown Portuguese powerhouse, Benfica on penalties, endured a torrid opening – Thomas Muller dragging his finish wide of Dutch international ‘keeper, Jeroen Zoet’s left hand upright as early as the third minute following a rampaging run and pull back from Austrian full back, David Alaba.

The four-man PSV defence and right back, Joshua Brenet in particular, had no answer for the Bayern front three, nor the elusive Alaba who found himself unrestricted in the visitor’s area once again in the 11th minute but unable to keep his effort down after a penetrating run by Dutch international, Arjen Robben.

Despite coming into this encounter off the back of a five match dry spell in front of goal in all competitions, Robert Lewandowski tested Zoet’s reflexes on a number of occasions throughout the half and, following the Dutch international ‘keeper’s denial of the Polish marksman in the 13th minute, a quickly taken corner from Arjen Robben found Thomas Muller inexplicably unmarked at the near post – the German international beating a furious, Zoet at the second time of asking to put Carlo Ancelotti’s men into the ascendancy with only his second goal of the season in all competitions.

Alaba continued to terrorize the PSV backline and he would play a key role in the host’s second goal of the evening – the Austrian international’s deflected cross from the left finding the head of German international, Joshua Kimmich unmarked at the back post for the 21-year-old to double the host’s advantage and seemingly end the game as a meaningful contest, such had been the German champions’ dominance to that point of the match.

However, despite having not having had a single attempt on goal in the first 38 minutes of the contest, the ball suddenly ended up in the back of Bayern ‘keeper, Manuel Neuer’s net – Gaston Pereiro wrongly adjudged by Scottish referee, William Collum to have been offside when receiving the ball prior to beating the German international ‘keeper.

Yet, Phillip Cocu’s men weren’t to be denied and, just a minute later, Luciano Narsingh left the Bayern rear guard for dead having been sent streaking away from the host’s back line by an incisive pass from Pereiro before flashing a spectacular drive past Neuer into the top right hand corner of the net to reignite the game as a contest.

Both teams came into this encounter in indifferent form in their respective domestic competitions – reigning Dutch title holders, PSV lagging behind current Eredivisie pacesetters, Feyenoord by nine points following a disappointing draw at home to Heracles on Saturday evening, while, like their opponents, Bayern were also without a win in their last three matches in all competitions, although unlike their Dutch counterparts,  Carlo Ancelotti’s side remain atop the Bundesliga standings – two points ahead of both FC Koln and RB Leipzig despite having dropped points at home to Koln and away at Eintracht Frankfurt in their last two league outings.

Despite their faltering form in the Eredivisie and having taken just one point from a possible six thus far in group play in the UEFA Champions League, the visitors began the second stanza where they had ended the first – Uruguayan, Pereiro drawing a point blank save from Germany’s number one in the 52nd minute.

However, any momentum that the Dutch champions had built up early in the second half was brought to an abrupt halt just before the hour when former PSV player, Robben weaved his way through the Eindhoven backline and drew a save from Zoet whose parry fell invitingly onto the head of Lewandowski – the Polish international making no mistake with the goal at his mercy.

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With the resistance of the away side finally broken, the hosts, who came into the encounter with Phillip Cocu’s men off the back of a surprise loss in Spain to Atletico Madrid in their last UEFA Champions League fixture, continued to press – Zoet denying both Muller and then Robben before the Dutch maestro finally put the game to bed when he beat an onrushing Zoet to a lofted ball into the PSV box from the boot of Spanish international, Thiago Alcântara – sending a looping header over the Dutch international stopper and into the unguarded net to round off an incredible period of possession by the German champions that contained over thirty consecutive passes.

Realistically, with both Atletico and Bayern looking in imperious form in group play, it would appear that Phillip Cocu’s men must now focus on securing third place in the group and with it a ticket into the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League, with the visit of Rostov to the Philips Stadion on 6th December taking on extra significance.

Man of the Match: Arjen Robben    



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Pressure on Bosz as Ajax fall in Russia

Four-time European Cup winners, Ajax failed to advance to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second year in succession after being humiliated in remarkable fashion by Russian underdogs, FC Rostov reports Steven Davies.

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Following a calamitous home defeat at the hands of Willem II in which most of the Ajax backline was culpable, under fire coach, Peter Bosz shuffled his defence for a second leg that, according to many in the Dutch media, carried with it more than just qualification for the group stages of European club football’s richest prize.

The most surprising selection came between the posts for the visitors where, despite a big money switch to Barcelona being in the offing, Dutch international ‘keeper, Jasper Cillessen returned at the expense of Andre Onana – the 20-year-old stopper having made his first team debut against Willem II on Saturday. Meanwhile, a series of high profile errors in the same game resulted in Columbian centre half, Davinson Sanchez being dropped and Dutch international, Joel Veltman reverting to centre half with both Kenny Tete and Nick Viergever filling the full back roles as the injured Mitchell Dijks was also ruled out.

Having come back from the brink of bankruptcy while also surviving a relegation playoff fifteen months previously to the verge of not only winning the Russian league title last term but now reaching the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, FC Rostov entered the second leg of the tie with the Amsterdam giants holding a slight advantage by virtue of Ecuadorian international, Christian Noboa’s away goal in the 1-1 draw at the Amsterdam ArenA just over a week ago.

A solid defence had been the bedrock of the unfancied Russian outfit’s success under previous coach, Kurban Berdyev and Rostov’s caretaker coach, Dmitri Kirichenko, having continued with his predecessor’s defensive philosophy in Amsterdam, appeared intent on strangling the tie here as well.

Yet, despite their defensive stance it was the Russians who came out of the blocks the quicker with the first clean cut opportunity of the game falling to Aleksandr Erokhin who, having latched onto a through ball, out muscled Jairo Riedewald before being denied by Cillessen – who stayed tall to deny the striker with 9 minutes gone.

Ajax did rouse from their slumber shortly thereafter as Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore lifted an effort over the bar from the edge of the six yard box after Nemanja Gudelj had seen his shot charged down with 19 minutes on the clock.

Rostov however, would continue to take it to their illustrious visitors and when Iranian, Sardar Azmoun latched onto a cross from the right with a towering header, Jasper Cillessen was left rooted to the spot as the Russians took the tie by the scruff of the neck going into the half time interval.

Any thought of an Ajax comeback was dashed within minutes of the resumption of play as a free kick from Timofei Kalachev was met by Erokhin who made no mistake with a close range header that put the Russians 2-0 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate after 52 minutes.

But, if Peter Bosz entered the game under pressure, what followed would have set alarm bells ringing at De Toekomst.

Eight minutes later, a game of ping pong in the Ajax area eventually saw the ball land at the feet of Ecuadorian, Noboa who – having opened the scoring in the tie just over a week ago in Amsterdam – stabbed the ball past a helpless Cillessen from close range to effectively seal the tie with half an hour remaining.

But a humiliating night was to get even worse for the former European powerhouse, when, six minutes later, an Ajax attack broke down and turned into a swift Rostov counter attack with Erokhin beating a number of Ajax players before putting in Dmitriy Poloz who beat the Ajax offside trap before calmly rounding Cillessen to make it 4-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.

Ajax offered little by way of resistance throughout the contest – often being caught in possession and creating few real goal scoring opportunities.

Having drug his side through recent indifferent performances, Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen was as anonymous as the rest of his team mates on a miserable night for de Godenzonen but did manage to get the Dutch side on the scoresheet from the penalty spot after substitute, Kasper Dolberg was brought down in the Rostov area by Fyodor Kudryashov – who was then shown the red card with seven minutes remaining.

However, it proved little more than a consolation for Peter Bosz whose position as Ajax coach is becoming increasingly untenable as the four time European Cup winners – already playing catch up in the Eredivisie standings – were embarrassingly dumped out of qualifying for European club football’s richest prize for a second year in succession.

Man of the Match: Bertrand Traore


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Russians frustrate Ajax Euro ambitions

Another strike by inspirational skipper, Davy Klaassen wasn’t quite enough for Ajax who endured another night of frustration in European club competition as Russian under dogs, Rostov moved into the second leg their UEFA Champions League Playoff with the Dutch giants holding a slight advantage off the back of an early away goal by Ecuadorian international, Christian Noboa reports Steven Davies.




Following the disappointment of dropping two points in the dying moments of Saturday’s visit of Roda, Ajax coach, Peter Bosz shuffled his pack ahead of the visit the Russian outfit – giving Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore his first start for de Godenzonen while also drafting in German wide man, Amin Younes along with Dutch international, Joel Veltman with Saturday’s two-goal hero, Kasper Dolberg, Kenny Tete and Daley Sinkgraven making way.

In spite of having four European Cup triumphs to their name, Ajax came into the tie in the unusual position of having never managed to best Russian opposition in any European club competition and, in spite of having the majority of the ball throughout the contest, the Amsterdammers found chances hard to come by with the Rostov back five keeping time and space for the attacking trio of El Ghazi, Traore and Younes to a minimum.

Despite their surprising victory over Anderlecht two weeks ago having secured some form of European group stage football for the first time in the club’s history and having finished as runners up in last season’s RFPL standings, Rostov came into the tie at the Amsterdam ArenA in chequered form with just four points from their opening three league games. The visitors also arrived in the Netherlands in the midst of a period of transition under the caretaker charge of former Rostov and Russian international striker, Dmitri Kirichenko – who took up the coaching reins following the departure of the Spartak Moscow-bound, Kurban Berdyev.

However, it was the Russians who, against the run of play, took the lead with their first meaningful attempt on goal through a Christian Noboa free kick from just outside the area – the curling effort wrong-footing Ajax ‘keeper, Jasper Cillessen.

As the half wore on, Ajax’s wide men gradually found more space in which to work and Anwar El Ghazi in particular carved out a number of tantalising crosses that his colleagues were frustratingly unable to capitalise upon – the Dutchman continuously terrorising Rostov’s left wing-back, Denis Terentjev throughout the match.

Yet it took until the half hour mark for Ajax’s first real clean cut opportunity to materialise – Burkina Faso international, Traore having slipped free of the shackles of his marker, dropped the shoulder and burned two defenders before seeing his shot saved by Soslan Dzhanaev’s legs – Rostov’s star man also parrying the follow up from Younes just seconds later.

Then, with 37 minutes having elapsed and the home side in firm control, Younes squared the ball across the area for Bazoer whose shot was handled by Rostov centre half, Cesar Navas, leaving the referee little option but to point to the spot – Davy Klaassen, the hero of Thessaloniki, converting the spot kick with little fuss for his fourth goal of the season in all competitions.

Having notched 14 efforts on goal in the first half alone, the home side began the second stanza where they had ended the first – on the front foot with Traore forcing Dzhanaev into a spectacular point blank save from a header after latching on to another dangerous El Ghazi cross on 54 minutes, while Nemanja Gudelj also worked the Rostov glovesman with a long range effort which Dzhanaev did well to tip over the bar in the 68th minute.

Yet, the home side found their Russian counterparts in resolute mood with chances few and far between in the second period despite the home side monopolizing over 70% of the ball throughout the course of the encounter, leaving Ajax coach, Peter Bosz with more questions than answers ahead of next week’s second leg in Rostov-on-Don.

Man of the Match: Anwar El Ghazi



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Davy’s double helps Ajax prevail and clinch playoff place

A double from Ajax captain, Davy Klaassen saw Ajax squeeze past PAOK and into the next round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League – beating the Greek side 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate reports Steven Davies.





(Ajax wins 3-2 on aggregate)

Playing an, at times, awkward 3-5-2 formation, Ajax found themselves with a proverbial mountain to climb after only four minutes when Stefanos Athanasiadis lost Heiko Westermann on the back post and beat Jasper Cillessen to put the Greek side ahead both on the night and in the tie overall following a 1-1 draw between the two sides in Amsterdam just over a week ago.


Faced with both the inhospitable temperatures in Thessaloniki and hostile atmosphere inside the Stadio Toumbas, the Ajax back three just could not come to grips with the illusive Athanasiadis who was denied by Cillessen on several occasions including a fantastic point black stop and a one-on-one between the two which the PAOK goal-scorer failed to convert inside the opening half hour.

Ajax built up a healthy advantage in terms of possession as the half wore on but could not convert their possession into clear cut chances while PAOK’s swift counter attacking through the evasive Garry Rodrigues found the Ajax backline turned inside out on more than one occasion with only Dutch international, Cillessen’s reflexes keeping the Amsterdam giants in the tie.

Ajax’s first real opportunity arrived at the feet of Cassierra after some deft control from a Dijks cross from the left found the new signing with the goal at his mercy – yet a stumble from the Colombian allowed PAOK ‘keeper, Glykos to recover.

It appeared that the tie was slipping away from the four-time European Cup winners until Viergever was brought down by Croatian defender, Marin Leovac in the PAOK box following an Ajax free kick from the right as the clock ticked into added time at the end of the first half.

Davy Klaassen duly dispatched the resultant spot kick to claw Peter Bosz and his men somewhat undeservedly back into the tie and in the process nullify the away goal the Greeks had bagged in Amsterdam.

A largely uneventful second stanza saw a slew of yellow cards and few opportunities – the majority of which fell to the home side.

A Tzavellas free kick on 53 minutes tested Cillessen’s reflexes and a looping header from PAOK substitute, Mystakidis rattled the Ajax’s keeper’s crossbar as the game entered the final quarter hour.

Yet, try as they might, the Greeks found de Godenzonen in resilient mood and, with the away side’s only opportunity of the half, a cross from the left found substitute Anwar El Ghazi whose cushioned header fell perfectly for Ajax skipper, Klaassen who duly drilled home to put the Amsterdammers ahead for the first time in the tie – the Dutch international’s strike ultimately proving enough to put the European giants into the next round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

Man of the Match: Jasper Cillessen


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PSV spoil Memphis’ return to Eindhoven






It was a night marred with a horrendous injury to Luke Shaw, but PSV will treat this as a night to remember, a great return to the Champions League with an unlikely victory against Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United writes Will Burns.

As the teams emerged this evening, the atmosphere was electric and for good reason. The Philips Stadion had not seen Champions League football since the 2008/09 season when current head coach Philip Cocu was actually on the pitch at that time for PSV. This time he was leading from the sideline and grabbed a vital victory in Group B of the Champions League.

With Memphis Depay returning ‘home’ of sorts, Louis van Gaal handed a first start to £58m man Anthony Martial in the lone striker role for the Manchester United. The Red Devils came out with a high press, especially on Andrés Guardado, hustling the midfielder from the off. The match failed to get going and the visitors were forced make an early change after quarter of an hour when Luke Shaw suffered a suspected broken leg.

The left-back was moving at pace and made a great run into the PSV area, he was then met head-on with a strong challenge from Hector Moreno. The Mexican defender immediately moved away from the area looking distressed which explained to all it was a bad one. Shaw was replaced by Argentine international Marcos Rojo after a six minute delay to comfortably remove the England defender from the pitch. No booking, no penalty, no foul was given by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli – Moreno left his feet in the challenge and was lucky to still be on the pitch.

The compassionated fans applauded Shaw off and the minutes surrounding the injury gave the stadium a real subdued feel. Once the game got going again, PSV pressed dangerously with the speed of Luciano Narsingh and Maxime Lestienne causing some trouble but the flag of the linesman was raised more than often halting the play.

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Although the game was playing at a good tempo, we had to wait 38 minutes for our first chance as Chris Smalling nodded wide from a Juan Mata free-kick. In the second chance of the game, three minutes later, we had the opening goal. Daley Blind sliding in former PSV favourite Depay, whom overpowered Santiago Arias, slipping his challenge with great footwork and slotted home with a goal that the attendance has seen time and time before.

The former PSV hero could have grabbed his second just a minute later. Mata gifted Depay a ball which sent the winger wide and subsequently dragged his shot the wrong side of Zoet’s post. The hosts were on the ropes and Smalling, somehow found himself through on goal and forced a strong stop from Zoet to keep the score at 1-0.

The lead only lasted six minutes as Cocu’s men grabbed a fortunate equaliser on 47 minutes. Lestienne with a whipping corner and defender Moreno easily rose over Matteo Darmain and the Mexican’s effort skimmed off Blind’s head to nestle into the net.

The second half began an even contest with both sides using swift attacks to build chances but neither goalkeeper were trouble initially before Narsingh gave David de Gea no chance with PSV’s second goal.

As they threatened in the first half, PSV’s famous counter attacking football gained them the unlikely lead. Great awareness from Guardado spotted the troublesome Lestienne sitting on the high defence of United. The Belgian received the ball and sped down the left and crossed at the back post for the unmarked Narsingh nod home from yards out and the Philips Stadion erupted.

Van Gaal’s side should have been level soon after, Bastien Schweinsteiger lofted a wonderful ball over the PSV back four, putting it on a plate for Mata, but the Spaniard failed to control the ball and the Eindhoven jeers and cheers sounded out to sarcastically congratulate him.

The visitors dominated and hunted the equaliser but lacked options in the final third. Van Gaal added Marouane Fellaini into the mix replacing Ander Herrera but the big Belgian, like on Saturday in United’s 3-1 win over Liverpool; he did not have any affect.

United’s energy waned and the long balls were being booted forward as PSV got men behind the ball and rode out the unlikely win.

It was great performance for PSV who finally deliver some good news for the Eredivisie and Dutch football in general. The Eindhoven side had done their country proud tonight and on the final whistle they celebrated like they had lifted the trophy, not just a victory in their first game.


PSVZoet – Arias, Bruma, Moreno, Brenet – Hendrix, Pröpper, Guardado (Schaars 72) – Narsingh, De Jong, Lestienne (Locadia 86).

GOALS: Moreno 47, Narsingh 57.

BOOKINGS: Arias 55, Moreno 60, Bruma 71.

MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea – Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw (Marcos Rojo 24) – Schweinsteiger, Herrera – Young (Valencia 86), Mata, Depay – Martial.

GOALS: Depay 41.

BOOKINGS: Smalling 67.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Joshua Brenet (PSV)



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Ajax 1 – 1 Paris Saint-Germain





Ajax clinched a fantastic point with a 74th minute Lasse Schöne trademark free-kick that denied Paris Saint-Germain all three points in the opening group game of the Champions League writes Will Burns.

The money men from France took the lead after just 15 minutes when Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani slotted into the open goal on the rebound from former Ajax legend Zlatan Ibrahimović’s blocked effort. The chance came about after an horrific error from Ajax left-back Nicolai Boilesen. The young Dane had conceded possession to Brazilian playmaker Lucas Moura by stumbling when attempting to clear a searching ball down the right.

Laurent Blanc’s side continued to apply pressure on Jasper Cillessen’s goal, but were unable to create any further opportunities as Frank de Boer’s defence performed with sturdiness to go in at half-time just the one goal down.

Ajax almost found a breach in their goal nearly straight after the restart when Finnish defender Niklas Moisander squandered the ball, only for Lucas to fire wide with only Cillessen to beat.  The hosts came close to capitalising on Lucas’ recklessness minutes later when substitute Niki Zimling saw his shot skim over the crossbar from long range.

However, Lucas continued to be at the head of PSG’s attack and would have found a deserved goal if not for Cillessen, who produced a terrific save to tip the Brazil international’s effort round the post after he had been played through by a excellent ball from Ibrahimović.

Ajax only threatened from outside the area with not one of their 11 attempts on goal were taken from inside the box but PSG’s lack of composure up front was punished on 74 minutes when the Amsterdammers found the all important equaliser.

Danish midfielder Lasse Schöne curled a perfect free-kick beyond the helpless Salvatore Sirigu, who despite getting a hand to the shot, could not keep the ball from heading into the net and exploding the Amsterdam ArenA crowd to their feet.

Ajax smelt blood and Schöne then almost completed an unlikely turnaround just minutes later with a low drive from a set-piece that forced Sirigu push the ball onto the post. PSG also nearly claimed the winner but Ajax held on for a draw that should give them hope of progression from the gorup that also contains FC Barcelona and APOEL Nicosia. Schöne’s goal ensured that Ajax stay undefeated in the last four Champions League matches, the Amsterdammers best run since October 2005 to February 2006.


AJAX: Cillessen, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen, Klaassen, Viergever (Zimling 46), Serero, Schöne (Milik 82), Sigthórsson (El Ghazi 61), Andersen.

SUBS NOT USED: Boer, Van der Hoorn, Denswil, Duarte.

GOALS: Schöne 74.

BOOKINGS: Klaassen 30, Veltman 56, El Ghazi 68, Serero 69.

PSG: Sirigu, Van der Wiel, David Luiz, Marquinhos, Maxwell, Motta, Verratti (Pastore 81), Matuidi, Lucas Moura (Lavezzi 81), Cavani, Ibrahimović.

SUBS NOT USED: Douchez, Digne, Cabaye, Camara, Bahebeck.

GOALS: Cavani 14.

BOOKINGS: Marquinhos 72.


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Besiktas 3-1 Feyenoord






A goal from Feyenoord substitute Elvis Manu was not enough for Feyenoord after they were knocked out of the Champions League following a poor performance in the Turkish capital this evening with two Beşiktaş goals coming from defensive errors reports Ryan O’Grady.

After the disappointing 2-1 defeat in the home leg of this tie, Fred Rutten’s side knew that they would have to win by 2 goals to progress or even just match the previous result to send the tie to extra-time.

Before Besiktas’ first goal on 28 minutes, Feyenoord actually had more possession and most of the game was played around the halfway line if not more in the Turkish side’s half. However even with this territorial advantage Feyenoord barely created anything, the only shot on target was from Mitchell te Vrede but it was correctly ruled out for offside. Both Boëtius and Schaken were very involved in the build up play for Feyenoord but neither could deliver a telling cross to create a chance for te Vrede.

The near-capacity crowd in Istanbul roared their team on throughout the game and were rewarded in the 28th minute when van Beek dawdled on the ball and was dispossessed by Pektemek, who ran into the box before squaring for Demba Ba, who was making his first professional appearance in Besiktas. His initial shot was well blocked and both players fell to the floor and in the ensuing melee Ba somehow managed to knock the ball in with his calf sending the home crowd in raptures. The goal was followed by a 10-minute period where the home side dominated the game creating chances and forcing errors. This ended when Boëtius broke clear for Feyenoord but was stopped by Gülüm, there was certainly a shout for a free kick, which had it been given would’ve almost meant a red card for the Turkish defender as he was the last man. Another man who was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch was Feyenoord’s Miquel Nelom who was arguably the worst player on the pitch repeatedly being dispossessed and given the ball away with wayward passes. He was booked in the 33rd minute for a challenge on Demba Ba, which was a fair decision by the referee. This was followed by another challenge in the 44th minute, this time on former Fulham man Kerim Frei who knocked the ball past Nelom and was clearly blocked off.

Immediately after the interval Feyenoord had a couple oh half-chances including an over hit cross from Schaken which nearly went in. In the 56th minute Rutten changed his system, he brought off the ineffective te Vrede and Nelom for midfielder Vormer and striker Manu. This led to a switch from 4-3-3 to a hopefully more attacking 3-4-3. Then in the 69th minute Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord’s captain, had to go off after stupidly taking a shot long after the whistle had been blown for a foul and appearing to have possibly pulled his calf muscle. He was replaced by Karsdorp who didn’t have a great game when he came on nearly costing Feyenoord a goal. Then substitute Manu struck in the 73rd minute to give the travelling Dutch supporters a ray of hope. A long ball out from the defence was latched onto by Elvis Manu who superbly knocked it over the top of the defender before stretching a leg out to poke it past the goalkeeper. Suddenly it looked as if Feyenoord would get themselves back in the game. From a corner that was poorly dealt with by the goalkeeper, Vormer knocked it just wide and Immers had a shot from the edge of the box as well which was easily stopped by the goalkeeper. However this period of attack from Feyenoord was abruptly cut short after Demba Ba knocked in another goal from close range. Olcay Sahan received the ball on the edge of the box and with his first touch knocked it past Mathijsen before cutting back inside past Van Beek at the edge of the six-yard box and then squared it to Ba who had a tap-in.  This dampened the Feyenoord spirits and they never recovered. The win was finished off in the 85th minute when Kongolo tried to pass it back to the goalkeeper but it was intercepted by Ba who went past the goalkeeper and slotted home to complete his hat-trick and thoroughly endear himself to the home crowd.

Feyenoord will be hoping they can recover from this damaging defeat in time for their opening game of the Eredivisie season away to ADO Den Haag. They will also be hoping that this elimination will not encourage yet more stars from last season to depart.


BESIKTAS: Zengin, Gülüm, Ramon, Franco, Hutchinson, Kavlak, Şahan, Uysal, Frei (Köybaşi 74), Ba (Tosun 87), Pektemek (Özyakup 85).

GOALS: Ba 28, 80 & 86.

BOOKINGS: Uysal 22, Gülüm 71.

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Mathijsen, Nelom (Vormer 58), Kongolo, van Beek, Immers, Clasie (Karsdorp 69), Vilhena, Schaken, te Vrede (Manu 57), Boëtius.

GOALS: Manu 74.

BOOKINGS: Nelom 33, Boëtius 37, Schaken 67.


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Feyenoord 1-2 Besiktas






A late penalty gave Feyenoord a major lifeline in the Champions League qualifying tie with Beşiktaş after failing to impress in the 2-1 defeat inside De Kuip this evening.

Feyenoord, Besiktas, Erwin Mulder, Feyenoord - Besiktas

It was a very unfamiliar side fielded by Fred Rutten, heavily depleted from this summer’s transfers. Ruben Schaken moved into the unusual right-back position with youngster Sven van Beek partnering veteran Joris Mathijsen in the centre. Dutch international Terence Kongolo began on the left of defence with Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena protecting the back four, and Lex Immers pressing on. Jean-Paul Boetuis and Wesley Verhoek appeared on the wings giving support to inexperienced front-man Mitchell te Vrede.

Feyenoord, roared on by 50,000 Rotterdammers, exploded out the blocks and attacked the boys from Istanbul from the off, however, failed to create any decent chances. In fact, their first shot on goal did not arrive until three minutes before half-time, and it was a poor effort by Boëtius who dragged his shot wide of the target.

After it being all the home side for the first 13 minutes, the Turkish side got the opening goal from a corner on 13 minutes. The set-piece was whipped in and some terrible marking by Mathijsen allowed Mustafa Pektemek to rise above and head home to grab a vital away goal.

Throughout the first 45 minutes, Feyenoord struggled to break down Beşiktaş, the team who kept the most clean sheets in the Turkish top flight last season. The visitors looked in shape and well prepared by coach Slaven Bilic and pressed Feyenoord back, as De Kuip became frustrated and the game develop into a scrappy affair. With four bookings pulled out of Italian referee Luca Banti’s pocket in an uneventful first half.

After the interval, it was more of the same and inside the final twenty minutes the Turkish side wrapped up the victory. The impressive Kerim Koyunlu sprinted down the right wing unmarked and emerged into the area. He lashed a shot towards goal that goalkeeper Mulder looked to have covered but unfortunately it took a wicked deflection off substitute Khalid Boulahrouz and into the net.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of the crowd but gave Feyenoord a little life. However, they started to press more and gained some success forcing saves out of Tolga Zengin. But it was late on where the home supporters got a little relief.

The Feyenoord fans went home a tad happier after Ramon Motta conceded a penalty for a foul on tricky substitute Elvis Manu three minutes into stoppage time. Young striker Mitchell te Vrede converted the spot kick to give Beşiktaş a slender lead into the second leg next Wednesday night.


FEYENOORD: Mulder, Schaken (Boulahrouz 61), Van Beek, Mathijsen, Kongolo, Clasie, Immers, Vilhena, Verhoek (Manu 65), Te Vrede, Boëtius.

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Vormer, Nelom, Karsdorp, Achahbar.

GOALS: Te Verde 90+4P.

BOOKINGS: Verhoek 31, Boëtius 39.

BESIKTAS: Zengin, Kurtulus, Franco, Gülüm, Motta, Koyunlu (Cenk Tosun 89), Uysal, Özyakup (Ba 59), Hutchinson, Şahan (Ismail Koybasi 75), Pektemek.

SUBS NOT USED: Cenk Gonen, Sivok, Boral, Holosko.

GOALS: Pektemek 13, Koyunlu 71.


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