Tag Archives: Europa League

The Dwindling Dutch UEFA Coefficient

On 24th May 2015 AFC Ajax Amsterdam celebrated the 20 year anniversary of their last European success.  It was on that date in 1995, at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, against the mighty AC Milan, a solitary goal, scored by substitute, Patrick Kluivert, who remains the youngest goal scorer in Champions League Final history at 18 years, 10 months and 23 days, secured the fourth and final UEFA European Cup in the Amsterdam club’s decorated history. Louis van Gaal’s ‘golden generation’ of: Kluivert,  Edgar Davids, Edwin van der Sar, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Michael Reiziger, Winston Bogarde, Nwankwo Kanu, Marc Overmars, Finidi George and Finnish international, Jari Litmanen, minus the retired, Frank Rijkaard and the departed, Clarence Seedorf, would make it to the final again a year later, losing on penalties at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to another Italian side, Juventus.

The last Dutch continental success came seven years later in 2002 in the shape of their fierce rivals, Feyenoord, who lifted the old UEFA Cup after a 3-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund in De Kuip.  A brace (including a penalty) from Pierre van Hooijdonk and a third by Danish striker, Jon Dahl Tomasson finally saw off the German side allowing the Rotterdam giants to celebrate in front of a partisan and predominantly Dutch crowd.

That was thirteen years ago.

In the years since, FC Twente’s success in the 2006 edition of the long forgotten and much lamented UEFA Intertoto Cup is all Dutch club football has had to shout about in terms of glory in European club competition and is why their current UEFA Coefficient is under threat writes Steven Davies.

UEFA Coefficients

In European football the UEFA Coefficients are statistics used for ranking and seeding teams in both club and international competitions. There are three different sets of coefficients calculated by UEFA: National Team Coefficient: used to rank and seed national teams for European competition and finals tournaments, Country Coefficient: used to evaluate the collective performance of the clubs of each member association, assigning the number of places and at what stage clubs enter the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League and finally, Club Coefficient: used to rank individual clubs for seeding in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

In the National Team Coefficient calculated on 12th December 2013 which would decide the seeding and pot placements for the UEFA Euro 2016 qualification groups, the Netherlands found themselves sitting in third behind leaders, Spain and second placed, Germany. The coefficients were calculated by averaging: 40% of the average ranking points per game earned in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying stage, 40% of the average ranking points per game earned in the Euro 2012 qualifying stage and final tournament and 20% of the average ranking points per game earned in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying stage and final tournament.

In terms of Country Coefficient however, which takes into account each association’s performance in European competitions from 2010-11 to 2014-15, with the ranking at the end of 2014-15 determining the number of places each association receives in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, the Netherlands were recently overtaken by Ukraine leaving them languishing in a disappointing ninth place with neighbours Belgium, whose clubs have collectively outperformed their Dutch counterparts in each of the last three seasons, breathing down their proverbial necks.

In 2014/15 the Netherlands had six European places up for grabs (two entrants to the UEFA Champions League and four to the UEFA Europa League) which will be reduced from 2015-16 with only three teams entering the UEFA Europa League from the countries ranked 7th to 9th (Although Go Ahead Eagles will make it four as they have been awarded a place via UEFA Fair Play); should the Netherlands fall down to 13th they would be stripped of automatic qualification for one team to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League while the remainder would have to fight through numerous qualifying rounds to reach the lucrative UEFA Europa League group stages. An unthinkable fall out of the top 15 would result in only one Dutch team being eligible to enter the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League while the rest would have a very short summer break indeed before having to compete in the early qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League.

Next season, 2014/15 Eredivisie Champions, PSV Eindhoven will be seeded in the draw for the 2015/16 edition of the UEFA Champions League by virtue of the fact that Real Madrid, the only side that could have prevented PSV’s seeding, lost out to Barcelona for the 2014/15 La Liga crown.

A change to the rules next season means the champions of the top seven leagues as ranked by UEFA will be seeded along with the holders of the competition; Barceona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Benfica, Paris-Saint Germain and Zenit St. Petersburg are thus automatically seeded. With Barcelona and Juventus contesting this year’s UEFA Champions League Final and both already seeded, the extra seeding is awarded to the league ranked eighth in the UEFA Coefficients – the Eredivisie and its current champions, PSV. This will change the in 2016/17 however as the list for the 2015/16 competition is based on coefficient rankings from the 2013/14 season when the Netherlands was ranked eighth. But with Ukraine having now moved ahead of the Dutch, if the scenario were repeated, it would be the Ukrainian champions who would stand to benefit.

Club Coefficient makes even grimmer reading as no Dutch club appears in the top 25 clubs in terms of UEFA team ranking. As of 27th May 2015, Ajax find themselves just outside the top 25 in 26th place, PSV Eindhoven are 30th, AZ Alkmaar 44th just ahead of FC Twente who find themselves in 45th whilst Feyenoord only just crack the top 100 in 95th. Meanwhile, across the border in tenth place Belgium, Anderlecht occupy 41st, Club Brugge, who made it all the way to the quarter finals of the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League, are 51st, Racing Genk 57th and Standard Liege 80th.

An Illustrious History

Over the course of the 40 years prior to Feyenoord’s 2002 UEFA Cup triumph, Dutch clubs had been not only a mainstay in the latter stages of European club competitions but had proved ultimately successful on 16 occasions; be it in the European Cup (UEFA Champions League), UEFA Cup (UEFA Europa League), UEFA Cup Winners Cup, European Super Cup, UEFA Intertoto Cup or the Intercontinental Cup, Dutch clubs were always, at the very least, contenders.

Ajax was the first Dutch club to put its mark on European club competition when the club lifted the inaugural International (Intertoto) Football Cup in 1961-62. Their opponents were Feyenoord, with the Amsterdam club prevailing 4-2 over two legs. The competition comprised 32 clubs and was created for those clubs that would otherwise not have had a European competition to compete in.

Seven years later, Ajax appeared in their first UEFA European Cup final; their opponents were AC Milan and the venue, the Bernabeu in Madrid. Although the Dutch side would ultimately succumb to their Italian opponents 4-1, the Dutch club’s appearance began a run of five successive years where Dutch teams contested the final of Europe’s elite club competition with the initial loss to Milan being the only time a Dutch team failed to capture the trophy. The 1969 final would be the first for the likes of: Johan Cruijff, Piet Keizer, Sjaak Swart and Wim Suurbier and the coach, Rinus Michels; but not their last.

The following year it was Feyenoord, who graced the final beating Scottish giants, Celtic 2-1 at the San Siro in Milan through goals from Rinus Israel, who cancelled out Archie Gemmell’s thirtieth minute strike before Swede, Ove Kindvall pounced in extra time to secure the Rotterdam club’s only UEFA European Cup triumph in its illustrious history.

Rivals Ajax returned to the final in each of the following three seasons, taking home European club football’s biggest prize on every occasion; goals from Dick van Dijk and substitute, Arie Haan seeing off Panathinaikos got the ball rolling at Wembley Stadium in 1971. The following year a brace from Johan Cruijff secured a 2-0 victory over Internazionale at De Kuip in Rotterdam in what has often been dubbed Total Football’s greatest moment. Ajax’s third successive victory a year later meant that the club was able to keep the trophy permanently as a single goal from Johnny Rep was enough to see off the challenge of Juventus at the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade in front of nearly 90,000 spectators. The original ‘golden generation’ of Cruijff, Keizer, Swart, Suurbier, Rep, Neeskens, Muhren and Krol didn’t stop there, collecting the Intercontinental Cup in 1972 and the European Super Cup in 1974 before going their separate ways.

But the end of Ajax’s dominance did not spell the end for Dutch clubs in general; Feyenoord took home a major European honour in 1974 as they won the UEFA Cup beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 over two legs and the trophy very nearly remained in Dutch hands the following year with FC Twente coming up short against Borussia Monchengladbach. Three years later the UEFA Cup would be back in Dutch possession however, as PSV Eindhoven stepped out of the shadows of the Netherlands’ ‘big two’, beating Bastia 3-0 in the second leg through goals from Willy van de Kerkhof, Gerrie Deykers and captain, Willy van der Kuijlen; the first having ended goalless.

With the Netherlands, under the leadership of Rinus Michels and later Austrian, Ernst Happel, including the likes of: Cruijff (1974 only), Suurbier, Haan, Krol, Jansen, Neeskens, van Hanegem (1974 only), Rep and Keizer (1974 only), reaching the final of back to back FIFA World Cup’s, in West Germany in 1974 and again four years later in Argentina, where they lost to the hosts on both occasions, the 1970’s, it could be argued, belonged to Dutch football; at the very least, this small, football-mad nation, its players, coaches and clubs produced many of the great footballing moments of the decade.

By comparison, the first half of the 1980’s proved far leaner for Dutch clubs in European club competition; AZ Alkmaar being the only Dutch club to post an appearance in a major European final between 1978 and 1987 when they lost out thrillingly to Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town, 5-4 on aggregate over two legs in 1981.

In sharp contrast however, the second half of the decade heralded the return to prominence of Dutch football and its clubs on the continent. Under the management of club legend, Cruijff, Ajax, littered with a number of soon-to-be household names of world football: Rijkaard, van Basten, Bergkamp, Winter and Muhren, claimed the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1987 against the East German side, Lokomotiv Leipzig, through a lone strike in the 20th minute by Marco van Basten at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. The Amsterdam club returned to the final a year later only to lose out by the same score line to Belgian side, Mechelen.

That same year PSV Eindhoven cemented their place as one of the ‘big three’ in the Netherlands by lifting the UEFA European Cup as part of a treble that also included the Dutch Championship and the Dutch Cup, defeating Portuguese powerhouse, Benfica 6-5 on penalties, after the game, held in the Neckarstadion in Stuttgart, ended goalless.

The summer of 1988 would prove an unforgettable one for the Dutch as the Netherlands secured its first (and to date only) international honour, coming out on top at Euro 1988 in Germany, beating the Soviet Union in the final through goals from Ruud Gullit and a legendary strike from Marco van Basten; a side boasting the likes of: Gullit, van Basten, Rijkaard and Koeman and coached once again by the imperious, Rinus Michels.

However, any hopes the Dutch had of following up this international success at club level would soon be dispelled as the majority of the newly crowned European Champions would head abroad as a familiar pattern began to emerge, just as it had in the mid 1970’s and would again in the late 1990’s. Marco van Basten left Ajax for AC Milan in 1987, Ruud Gullit moved in the same direction from PSV, Frank Rijkaard would eventually join Gullit and Van Basten in Milan in 1988 after a year with Sporting Clube de Portugal and a loan spell at Real Zaragoza, while Ronald Koeman would be the last of the four to depart the Netherlands, moving from PSV to Barcelona in 1989.

It would be four more years until a Dutch team graced the final of one of Europe’s elite club competitions. In 1992, Ajax, under the leadership of a young coach named, Louis van Gaal, reached the final of the UEFA Cup where they faced Italian side, Torino. Van Gaal’s men took the crown on away goals by virtue of drawing the first leg 2-2 through goals by Wim Jonk and Stefan Pettersson in Turin before the return leg, held at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam ended goalless. The Ajax side included a number who, three years later would lift European club football’s greatest prize once more: Frank de Boer, Danny Blind and Edwin van der Sar, while most would head abroad and to Serie A in particular: Dennis Bergkamp (Internazionale), Wim Jonk (Internazionale) and Bryan Roy (Foggia).

These departures however, provided the opportunity for another ‘golden generation’ to rise through the Amsterdam club’s famed youth system, emerge into the first team, win three successive Dutch Championships from 1994 to 1996 and sweep the club to that glorious triumph in Vienna on 24th May 1995.

By end of the 20th Century, that ‘golden generation’ too would be cut up and shared out amongst Europe’s elite: Edgar Davids (Milan), Michael Reiziger (Milan), Frank and Ronald de Boer (Barcelona), Edwin Van der Sar (Juventus), Clarence Seedorf (Sampdoria), Jari Litmanen (Barcelona), Patrick Kluivert (Milan), Marc Overmars (Arsenal), Finidi George (Betis), Winston Bogarde (Milan) and Nwankwo Kanu (Internazionale); even ‘super-coach’ van Gaal left for pastures new in 1997, replacing Bobby Robson at Barcelona.

It goes without saying that generations of players of this calibre are few and far between and while great players have come through De Toekomst and pulled on the famous white shirt with the single red stripe since, Ajax have been unable to replicate this success at the highest level of European club competition.

Feyenoord’s 2002 UEFA Cup triumph was largely built on sand as the club found itself in dire financial straits a few years later as a result of many years of frivolous spending and paying exorbitant wages.

For PSV, despite taking the ascendancy in terms of domestic success in the first decade of the 21st Century and being crowned Landskampioen seven times between 2000 and 2008; this success failed to replicate itself on Europe’s biggest stage with the Eindhoven club’s run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2004-05, where they lost out to perennial European powerhouse, AC Milan, on away goals, the closest the Eindhoven club came to a second triumph in Europe’s premier club competition.

Dutch Influence

Perhaps a more accurate gauge of the impact of the Dutch on European club football is that of the success of its exported players and coaches:

Johan Cruijff brought domestic success as a player at Catalan giants, Barcelona the 1970’s under fellow Dutchman and ex-Ajax Coach, Rinus Michels and later, continental success as a coach in his own right, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989, as well as the UEFA European Cup in 1992, Ronald Koeman’s strike sinking Sampdoria in the final at Wembley Stadium. They would add the UEFA Super Cup later that year and be runners up in the final once more in 1994. Moreover, Cruijff was instrumental in implementing the ‘Dutch influence’ at the club and a style of play that came to be known as tiki-taka, characterised by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels and maintaining possession as well as the promotion of youth. The style would be continued and developed at the club by Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard, the latter lifting the UEFA Champions League with the Catalans in 2006, overcoming Arsenal 2-1 at the Stade de France; while internationally, it would be successfully adopted by Spain at Euro 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012.

Fellow Dutchman, Hans Croon would taste Cup Winners’ Cup glory with Anderlect in 1976 as would Ad de Mos with Mechelen in 1988. Huub Stevens, enjoyed UEFA Cup success with German side, Schalke 04 in 1997 and Dick Advocaat took Zenit St. Petersburg to glory in the same competition in 2008 where the Russians overcame Glasgow Rangers 2-0 through goals from Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyryanov, before adding the UEFA Super Cup later that year, beating Manchester United 2-1; while Rinus Michels was named FIFA Coach of the Century in 1999.

Many great Dutch players have graced European club competition but few were more instrumental to a team’s success than Gullit, van Basten and Rijkaard. The Dutch trio were a vital part of the all-conquering AC Milan team of the late 80’s and early 90’s; the club securing the UEFA European Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup back-to-back in 1989 and 1990.

The Netherlands continues to produce a copious amount of talent for the game the world over which can be clearly illustrated by their appearance under Bert van Marwijk in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final despite their 1-0 loss to Spain and the fact that the Dutch were ranked at number 1 in the FIFA World Rankings between August and September 2011, becoming only the second national football team after the Spanish themselves to top the rankings without previously winning a World Cup. A third place finish would follow at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, under Louis van Gaal in Brazil and currently, the Netherlands are ranked sixth as of 7th May 2015.

The Problem(s)

The implementation of the Bosman Ruling in 1995 which removed restrictions on foreign EU players within national leagues and allowed players in the EU to move to another club at the end of their contract without a transfer fee being paid led to a lack of stability and continuity within Dutch clubs from one season to the next and is one of three key factors that KNVB President and former Ajax chairman, Michael van Praag highlighted when addressing the Dubai International Sports Conference in 2010, alongside agents and the millions on offer in Europe’s biggest leagues: “Holland is a country of 16 million people, while England for example is a country of 60 million. The difference in TV rights money the two leagues generate is huge and we can’t cope with the salaries our players are offered elsewhere.”

Despite American based Australian tycoon, Rupert Murdoch securing the rights to broadcast the Eredivisie for 12 years at a cost of 1 billion euros in August 2012, taking effect from the beginning of the 2013/14 season (meaning each Eredivisie club should annually receive 4 million euros); the deal comes up short compared, for example, to the FA Premier League which from 2013 has generated 2.2 billion euros per year in domestic and international television rights. In addition, the Deloitte Money Football League, compiled by accountancy firm, Deloitte, which ranks football clubs each year on the basis of revenue generated from football operations each February, contained no Dutch clubs in its top 30 for 2013/14; but did however, contain three Spanish clubs (Including top ranked Real Madrid who raked in €549.5 million in revenue), four German clubs, five Italian clubs and a whopping fourteen English clubs. Thus, with little hope of competing financially, Dutch clubs have become dependent on selling their best young players every season to make ends meet to which van Praag declared: “Dutch sides have become feeder clubs that is the only way to put it. Everything changed after the Bosman Ruling. Back when I was chairman of Ajax we lost Patrick Kluivert on a free transfer to AC Milan. But he wasn’t successful so they sold him a year later for US$10m. We had educated Patrick for 12 to 13 years and received nothing.”

Worrying trends have emerged with young Dutch players and those trained in Dutch academies being plucked from Dutch youth systems prior to even making their debut at first team level and others such as: Royston Drenthe, Christian Eriksen and more recently, Memphis Depay, being signed up by clubs from Europe’s biggest leagues after a relatively short time in the first team at Feyenoord, Ajax and PSV respectively.

Drenthe, who was snapped up from Feyenoord after playing just 29 first team games by Spanish giants, Real Madrid, had loan spells at Hercules and Everton but only managed 46 appearances and two goals for Real between 2007 and 2012. Thereafter, the Rotterdam native has crisscrossed the continent in spells with Alania Vladikavkaz, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and now plies his trade in Turkey for Kayseri Erciyesspor who were relegated from the Turkish Super Lig in 2014-15.

Notably, those players taken out of Dutch academies fail to gain key experience at the highest level for their clubs and are often farmed out on loan indefinitely before being released into obscurity: a prime example of this is Sunderland’s, Patrick van Aanholt, who was part of the PSV youth system until the age of 17 when he joined Chelsea. From there, van Aanholt spent time on loan at no fewer than five clubs: Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and Vitesse between 2009 and 2014. How many appearances did he actually make for Chelsea before being sold to Sunderland in the summer of 2014? Two! Having represented the Netherlands at every age group from U16 through to the full national team, surely his apprenticeship would have been better served playing consistently and establishing himself in the Eredivisie for PSV as opposed to embarking on the odyssey that his fledgling career has thus far become?

Such is the opinion of Dutch legend, Johan Cruijff, who urged young players to follow the example of Daley Blind in the wake of the 24-year-old’s £13.8m move to Manchester United from Ajax in the summer of 2014 in his column in De Telegraaf and relayed through his personal website: “Educated at Ajax, on loan to FC Groningen and improving step by step at Ajax to eventually gain a top transfer to Manchester United after the World Cup. But apparently, even a role model like Blind cannot prevent children to leave Ajax too early and move abroad.”

“Not one Dutch player comes to mind who has actually reached the top after moving abroad as a teenager. Unfortunately not every parent realises a football player has only one agent, but an agent sometimes has ten football players under his wing. If one of them fails, they move on to the other. A lot of talents have suffered from this the last couple of years.”

Cruijff, like van Praag, places the blame for the rising numbers of young players taking an early route abroad at the feet of agents: “I do not want to tar every football agent with the same brush, but some of them… They are one of the biggest problems in football.”

This has also proved a major problem for Dutch clubs competing in elite European club competition in recent years. For example; Ajax, the Netherlands’ most dominant club domestically, winning four consecutive titles between 2011 and 2014, before PSV broke their stranglehold in 2015, have failed to make progress out of the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in each of the last five seasons. Moreover, despite qualifying on each occasion for the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League by virtue of finishing third in each of their UEFA Champions League groups the Amsterdam club have only twice progressed past the second round, making the round of 16 in 2010/11 and again in 2014/15.

In that time, a multitude of notable players have worn the Ajax shirt before being sold on to Europe’s biggest leagues; what could a squad containing the likes of: Maarten Stekelenburg, Keneth Vermeer, Jasper Cillessen, Nicolai Boilesen, Gregory van der Wiel, Ricardo van Rhijn, Toby Alderweireld, Joel Veltman, Jan Vertonghen, Niklas Moisander, Urby Emanuelson, Jairo Reidewald, Daley Blind, Lucas Andersen, Lasse Schone, Davy Klaassen, Daley Sinkgraven, Christian Eriksen, Thulani Serero, Viktor Fischer, Riechedly Bazoer, Siem de Jong, Ricardo Kishna, Anwar El Ghazi, Arkadiusz Milik, Kolbein Sigþórsson and Luis Suarez, have done on European club football’s biggest stage had they been allowed to remain together and evolve as a team over the course of those five years?

Sadly, we will never know.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Sparta Prague 3-1 PEC Zwolle






PEC Zwolle’s European dreams are over as Czech side Sparta Prague blew Ron Jans’ side away tonight in a 3-1 triumph writes Will Burns.

Sparta exploded out of the blocks and were ahead after just nine minutes with Ladislav Krejčí breaking past the Zwolle defence to slot past Diederik Boer in goal.

Zwolle attacked, searching for the equaliser and the all-important away goal but were hit on the break before half-time to virtually kill the tie off. Midfielder Bořek Dočkal finished a counter attack with a blast from outside the area, which cruelly deflected off Maikel van der Werff with Boer totally out of the reach.

Prague found a third just after the hour mark through Jakub Brabec before Zwolle grabbed a consolation through a Stef Nijland penalty kick, after Mustafa Saymak was fouled in the area by Radoslav Kováč.

The adventure is over for Zwolle, however they can be proud of reaching Europe just two seasons after promotion and with Ron Jans’ leadership they might be to qualify next year.


SPARTA PRAGUE: Bičík, Brabec, Kovac, Kadeřábek, Nhamoinesu, Matejovsky, Dockal, Mareček, Vacek (Konate 84), Krejci (Nespor 90+1), Lafata (Brezanik 90+1).

SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Svejdik, Hybs, Bednar.

GOALS: Krejci 10, Dockal 44, Brabec 62.

BOOKINGS: Matejovsky 32, Brabec 56, Nhamoinesu 57.

PEC ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Van der Werff, Van Hintum, Rienstra, Saymak, Lukoki (Dekker 78), Drost, Thomas (Moro 70), Necid (Nijland 55).

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Ioannidis, Pereira, Lam.

GOALS: Nijland 83P.

BOOKINGS: Sainsbury 36.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Feyenoord 4-3 Zoyra






Feyenoord win 5-4 on aggregate

Elvis is the KING of Rotterdam after a late Elvis Manu goal saved Feyenoord’s blushes and fired them into the Europa League group stages writes Ryan O’Grady.

Three lucky goals for Feyenoord followed by three defensive lapses that cost three goals and to round it all off Manu, the substitute, scored the winner in the 92nd minute. The fact that Feyenoord are through will cover up serious issues with their defensive performance tonight, but judging by Manu & Co’s reaction at the final whistle that’s something they’ll deal with that later because now is the time to celebrate their passage onto the group stages.

After a disappointing defeat at the weekend to Utrecht the pressure was on for Fred Rutten and he made two changes to the team, Nelom and Manu were replaced by Kongolo and Basaçikoglu respectively. Feyenoord started well with Schaken winning a free kick just to the right of the box after a foul by Ignjatijević. The Zorya defence dealt with the initial free kick but they could only clear it as far as Schaken on the edge of the box whose shot pinballed off different players before falling to te Vrede but his shot was well saved by Shevchenko. Then in the ninth minute Zorya had a chance of their own, after winning a free kick just outside the box, the ball was floated in and Segbefia got his head on it but it was blocked well by van Beek just in front of goal.

In the 13th minute Budkivskiy received the ball inside the D and turned van Beek before going down inside the box and the penalty was given, however the linesman immediately called over the referee and told him that Budkivskiy was pulling van Beek shirt and on replay he was shown to be correct and the penalty decision was rescinded with Budkivskiy lucky not to get booked for going down easily. Feyenoord replied with a goal from a free kick, it was delivered into the box and was dealt with once more by the Zorya defence but it again fell to a Feyenoord player, this time Vilhena, his shot was also deflected but it again fell to Te Vrede who this time made no mistake and smashed it home hard and low.

Almost straight from the kick off a cross was put in for te Vrede but it was just too high and skimmed the striker’s head. In the 22nd minute the Feyenoord defence fell asleep, the ball was put into the Feyenoord box from the right wing and both van Beek and Wilkshire went for the same ball and got in each other’s way allowing the ball to fall to Malinovskiy but he seemed to panic under pressure from Immers and hit the crossbar when he should’ve at least got it on target. This moment of hesitation was punished almost immediately when Vilhena crossed from deep and Kongolo rose up to meet the header but missed the target, however it fell to Schaken who bundled it in from close range. After the goal Feyenoord seemed to be settling down for half time which meant there wasn’t a lot happened after that only when Basaçikoglu broke clear before sending in a dreadful cross.

The second half started well for Feyenoord, only two minutes in Schaken sent in a cross that should have been easily cleared but Bilyi didn’t seem to know what to do with it, eventually stooping low and heading it into his own net. Straight from the restart the Zorya players sent the ball back to their keeper who was charged down by Schaken and Shevchenko’s clearance hit Schaken right in the face before just going over the crossbar.

After this near miss Feyenoord’s defence crumbled, first Basaçikoglu gave away a foul on the near touchline in the 56th minute and the free kick was converted by Malinovskiy who got the slightest of touches on it with a free diving header. Then in the 70th minute, following a relatively quiet period, Kongolo headed out a dangerous looking cross for a corner but the resulting corner was converted by Bilyi who was inexplicably unmarked inside the six-yard box.

The comeback was complete in the 78th minute when just before he received the ball Immers slipped allowing Malinovskiy to collect the ball and from around 35 yards out scored a screamer into the bottom right corner leaving Mulder with no chance, however you could argue that once Immers slipped the defence could’ve put more pressure on him, instead they backed off allowing him to score and send the ten Zorya fans that had bothered to turn up into ecstasy.

This forced Rutten to bring on two attackers in Manu and Achahbar, for Clasie and Mathijsen respectively. The Manu substitution paid off in the 92nd minute when he received the ball on the edge of the box before impressively spinning and pushing past three players and slotting the ball home to spark rapturous celebrations all around De Kuip including on the bench and in the Director’s box.


FEYENOORD: Mulder, Wilkshire, Van Beek, Mathijsen (Manu 84), Kongolo, Clasie (Achahbar 84), Immers, Vilhena, Schaken, Te Vrede, Basacikoglu (Nelom 78).

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

GOALS: Te Vrede 18, Schaken 27, Bilyi 48OG, Manu 90+2.

BOOKINGS: Basacikoglu 55, Te Vrede 87, Manu 90+3.

ZOYRA: Sjevtsjenko, Kamenjoeka, Bilyi, Ignjatijevic (Pysko 72), Pyljavskji, Karavajev (Chaykovsky 79), Tsjaikovksy, Segbefia (Ljubenovic 66), Malynovskyj, Chomtsjenovsky, Boedkivskij.

SUBS NOT USED: Santini, Lipartia, Yarmash, Boroday.

GOALS: Malynovskyj 56 & 80, Bilyi 71.



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EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Twente 1-1 Qarabag FK






Qarabag win on away goal rule 1-1

In the shock of the night, FC Twente were knocked out on away goals to Azerbaijan side Qarabag FK reports Will Burns.

Twente should have had this tie wrapped up when looking at the sides on paper but tonight, they were below par and rightly so, Qarabag emerged into tomorrow’s group stage draw.

Cuco Martina and Kamohelo Mokotjo were nearly punished for mistakes early on but Brazilian striker Reynaldo failed to have the quality to get past Twente keeper Nick Marsman.

The hosts gathered up the play but failed to trouble the Azerbaijan’s representatives until they took the lead before half-time through Luc Castaignos. Kasper Kusk and Kyle Ebecilio combined with the latter feeding the ball through to the big striker to finish in style.

The second-half began and Twente seemed content in keeping just the one goal advantage, however Qarabag had other ideas and five minutes into the half, they drew level. Albanian Ansi Agolli laid the ball into Macedonian international Muarem Muarem, whose first touch was awful, did well to control after the ball flicked up to volley home past Marsman. This was the away goal that all Twente fans dreaded.

The game dwindled on with chances being missed from Castaignos, Mokotjo and Hakim Ziyech. The latter going the closest, smashing an effort across the post.

Twente ran out of time and Qarabag and their small minority of their fans celebrated as the underdogs head into the group stages for the first time.


FC TWENTE: Marsman, Martina, Lachman, Bjelland, Schilder, Ebecilio (Eghan 64), Mokotjo, Ziyech (Borven 79), Mokhtar (Ould-Chikh 90+3), Castaignos, Kusk.

SUBS NOT USED: Stevens, Koppers, Breukers, Bengtsson.

GOALS: Castaignos 37.


QARABAĞ FK: Šehić, Qarayev, Medvedev, Sadygov, Agolli, Guseynov, Reynaldo, Muarem (Dias 71), Almeida, Chumbinhno(Yusifov 79), Nadirov (Teli 85).

SUBS NOT USED: Veliyev, Quliyev, Ahmadov, George.

GOALS: Muarem 51.

BOOKINGS: Qarayev 86.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk 0-2 PSV






PSV win 3-0 on aggregate

Memphis Depay scored two late goals in a poor games against FC Shakhtyor, to send PSV into tomorrow’s group stage draw writes Will Burns.

Philip Cocu named a strong side in Belarus this evening as a place in the Europa League group stages and around €3 million in revenue was at stake. Only a few changes in the eleven that defeated rivals Ajax last Sunday, with the impressive Luciano Narsingh on the bench with Jetro Willems with Georginio Wijnaldum not in the matchday eighteen. Oskar Hiljemark sat in the midfield with Jürgen Locadia up front and Abel Tamata lining up at left-back.

The hostile environment inside the Borisov Arena may scared the two sides into playing, as the first half was a weak show by both teams with only six shots being exchanged throughout the first 45 minutes. Half-time came with no goals which came as no surprise since the chances were limited.

The second half was more of the same with both sides very cautious and Shakhtyor knowing one more goal from PSV would kill off the tie.  PSV should have received a penalty after Memphis Depay was tripped in the area by Ihar Kuzmianok however, Welsh referee Lee Evans waved away appeals.

Chances for Depay and Luuk de Jong went begging and it looked like PSV were holding on for the 0-0 draw that would put them through. However, in the dying minutes Depay provided two goals and some magic to send the Eindhoven fans back to Holland with a smile on their face. Depay slalomed through the Shakhytor defence, skipping past Alyaksey Yanushkevich then avoiding Kuzmianok’s challenge to slot home past Artur Kotenko to give Cocu’s men the lead.

In stoppage time, Depay added a second and his eighth goal in six games to put PSV in tomorrow’s Europa League group stage draw.


FC SHAKHTYOR: Kotenko, Yurevich, Kuzmianok, Matveichyk, Yanushkevich, Leonchik, Rios, Stargorodskiy, Galyuza (Yanush 63), Guruli (Wojciechowski 55), Osipenko.

SUBS NOT USED: Gavrilov, Tsevan, Tupchiy, Kovalev, Vasilewski.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Rios 70, Yanush 79.

PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Rekik, Tamata, Maher (Ritzmaier 79), Hendrix, Hiljemark, Locadia (Narsingh 67), De Jong, Depay.

SUBS NOT USED: Pasveer, Koch, Willems, Vloet, Jozefzoon.

GOALS: Depay 89 & 90+2

BOOKINGS: Brenet 64.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: PEC Zwolle 1-1 Sparta Prague






PEC Zwolle will be ruing first half chances, including a missed penalty, as they drew their first ever game in European competition 1-1 against Czech giants Sparta Prague reports Will Burns.

Ron Jans decided to select Czech striker Tomas Necid against the club, Necid seen as his biggest rival growing up as a Slavia Prague fan. The big 6ft 3inches forward was constant thorn in Sparta’s side tonight and his performance will surely earn himself a place in Jans’ starting line-up at the weekend against Vitesse Arnhem.

Zwolle dropped Jody Lukoki to the bench and replaced him with Greek attacked Nikos Ioannidis, a summer loan signing from Olympiakos. Sparta keeper David Bičík was kept busy throughout the night and on six minutes, Ioannidis fired a great effort at the stopper after cutting in from the right wing, but Bičík held firm.

Jesper Drost then had a golden opportunity minutes later, after some great work from New Zealand winger Ryan Thomas. Thomas weaved his way into the area from the left wing and Necid controlled the 19-year-old cross into the path of Drost. Unfortunately, for the midfielder he failed to connect properly with his first time shot and scuffed his effort wide.

Necid then decided to test Bičík with a half-volley from the edge of the box after again linking up well with Thomas, however minutes later Necid had a bigger impact on the game when he was fouled in the area by Jakub Brabec. Immediately, English referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot but Maikel van der Werff hit a poor penalty as Bičík easily saved the spot-kick.

The visitors only had one real chance before half-time when Pavel Kadeřábek latched onto a mistake by Zwolle goalie Diederik Boer. The right-back crossed for Costa Nhamoinesu in the centre, but the Zimbabwean sliced his shot and Boer recovered to save on the line. Further efforts from Necid and long range efforts from Thomas and Mustafa Saymak tested Bičík but the sides went into the break goal-less.

Ron Jans decided to bring on the tricky Jody Lukoki on at the interval for Ioannidis to give his side more creativity on the right-wing. However, it was the Czechs that should have taken the lead nine minutes after the restart. Veteran striker David Lafata had a great chance just before the hour-mark but Drost got back to clear off the line.

Minutes after Bart van Hintum had flashed a shot across goal, substitute Jody Lukoki gave the hosts the lead, their first ever goal in Europe. After a great exchange of passes between Lukoki, Necid and Drost, the former Ajax winger was on hand to tap home to make it 1-0.

The Ijsseldelta Stadion exploded however, the atmosphere was cut short by Sparta’s equaliser four minutes later. The impressive Kamil Vacek, a recent on-loan signing from Chievo, sped down the right wing and beat Van Hintum with ease. Vacek cut back to Ladislav Krejčí in the box whose shot clipped off Van der Werff and past Boer in goal to level the game up and give Prague that all important away goal.

Tomas Necid may have won the game for Zwolle after his free header from Lukoki’s corner was well wide with minutes to go. The game finished all square and Zwolle has to get at least one goal over in Prague next Thursday to qualify further.


ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Van der Werff, Van Hintum, Rienstra, Saymak, Ioannidis (Lukoki 46), Drost, Thomas (Nijland 65), Necid.

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Dekker, Moro, Pereira, Lam.

GOALS: Lukoki 77.

BOOKINGS: Lukoki 77, Van Polen 86.

SPARTA PRAGUE: Bičík, Kadeřábek, Kovac, Brabec, Nhamoinesu, Marecek, Husbauer (Prikryl 66), Matejovsky, Dockal (Vacek 76), Lafata (Bednar 90+2), Krejci.

SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Svejdik, Konaté, Breznanik.

GOALS: Krejci 82.

BOOKINGS: Matejovsky 57.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Zoyra 1-1 Feyenoord






Feyenoord disappoint in Europe once again as they head back De Kuip with a 1-1 draw in what could be Jordy Clasie’s last game for the club. Maksim Beliy gave Zorya the lead with a deflected free kick before te Vrede levelled in the 37th minute in an uneventful game in Ukraine reports Ryan O’Grady.

Feyenoord came into this game off the back of a slightly disappointing draw with Heerenveen at home, whilst opponents Zorya were coming into this game in 7th in their domestic league. This game was not only important for Feyenoord but for Dutch football in general, if you look at the UEFA country coefficients then you’ll notice that Ukraine lie in eighth just ahead of the Netherlands in ninth, so a win for Feyenoord could benefit all Dutch teams who qualify for Europe in the future.

The game kicked off very slowly with the first shot on target coming in the 21st minute. Before that there were barely any half chances, with only a couple of note, one was te Vrede running clear before over-running the ball and the second occurred when Vilhena slid in to get a touch on a cross from Schaken but it went well over. Then in the 21st came the first real chance, Chaykovskiy was booked for a challenge on Kongolo where he swung for the ball but Kongolo manages to knock it past him before he was brought down. Clasie stepped up to take the free kick and it looked like it was heading into the top corner before Shevchenko, the Zorya keeper, made a really good save and pushed it out for a corner which came to nothing. The reply from Zorya came in the 27th minute when they won a free kick on the edge of the box, Khomchenovskiy touched it to Maksim Beliy before he fired a low ball in that gained a deflection and went into the bottom corner leaving Mulder with no chance and brought out an eccentric celebration from Vernydub, the Zorya coach. This brought a short period of pressure from the home side, with another free kick 3 minutes later that Ignjatijević put just wide. Then in the 32nd minute Feyenoord replied with a shot from Vilhena on the edge of the box that was blocked by the goalscorer Beliy. This was followed by the Feyenoord equaliser, Wilkshire controlled a cross-field ball before he sent in a cross that beat three defenders before Mitchell te Vrede tapped it in from close range, the Zorya centre-back should’ve have positioned himself better so he could’ve cut out the cross. The half was then finished off by a long-range effort from Clasie into the bottom corner of the net but was saved by Shevchenko.

During half time a substitution was made by Zorya, Maksim Malyshev had to come off after sustaining a head injury in the first half and was replaced by Oleksandr Grytsay. The start of the second half was almost identical to the first half with nothing happening at either end where up until the 59th minute the only event of note was Kongolo getting booked for a challenge on Karavayev. In the 59th minute van Beek fouled striker Budkivskiy who was Zorya’s most useful player on the night. The free kick was taken by Malinovskiy and was headed for the top corner on the near side of the goal but it was well saved by Mulder. Almost immediately after this shot came two golden oppurtunities for Zorya, first Budkivskiy received the ball in the box with far too much space around him but his was shot was palmed away by Mulder only for Karavaev to try and follow it up but at the crucial moment he was tackled brilliantly by captain Jordy Clasie This was followed by a substitution from Feyenoord coach, Frank Rutten, who took off Boëtius, who has clearly not been performing at his best recently, and brought on new signing Basaçikoglu, who had no impact whatsoever. In the 67th minute Khomchenovskiy was one-on-one with the keeper but Mulder came out well and saved the shot easily. Then Jordy Clasie had to come off because he had been struggling with cramp since his brilliant last-ditch tackle 10 minutes earlier and was replaced by Vormer. Another eventless few minutes passed by ended only by a brilliant chance for Lex Immers. Substitute Vormer sent in a cross onto which Lex Immers ran onto right in front of goal before unbelievably putting it over, he was under pressure from Chaykovskiy and arguably had a penalty claim for his challenge but he still should have put the ball away. This was followed immediately by a Zorya counter attack where they themselves were unlucky not receive a penalty after a van Beek challenge. In the 89th minute came the best chance yet for Feyenoord, Schaken ran down the line before putting in a lofted cross that was met at the far post by Vilhena but he inexplicably put it wide and to use a common footballing phrase ‘it seemed easier to score than miss’. He appeared to try and place the header rather than just heading it down which almost certainly would’ve resulted in a goal and the win for Feyenoord. However the Feyenoord performance as a whole was poor and they didn’t deserve the win.


ZORYA: Shevchenko, Kamenyuka, Beliy, Ignjatijevic, Pysko, Karavayev, Chaykovsky, Malyshev (Gritsay 47), Khomchenovskiy, Segbefia (Malinovsky 57), Budkovskiy.

SUBS NOT USED: Santini, Khudzik, Yarmash, Ljubenovic, Pylyavskyi.

GOALS: Beliy 27.

BOOKINGS: Chaykovskiy 21.

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Wilkshire (Karsdorp 83), Van Beek, Mathijsen, Kongolo, Clasie (Vormer 73), Immers, Vilhena, Schaken, Te Vrede, Boëtius (Basacikoglu 63).

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Nelom, Steenvoorden, Manu.

GOALS: Te Vrede 38.

BOOKINGS: Boëtius 29, Kongolo 55.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: PSV 1-0 FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk






PSV Eindhoven win the first out of two games after attacking midfielder Adam Maher led his team to a 1-0 win thanks to a deflected shot. Next week the teams face each other in the return leg in Belarus writes Lawk Raoof.

It was clear at the start of the game that Shakhtyor wasn’t headed for Eindhoven to impress the fans with flashing combination football. Sadly, it came only to make football impossible for home-team PSV Eindhoven. PSV impressed by high-tempo pressing football and combination through the middle to break through the Belarus defense of Shakhtyor Saligorshk. However, it was after a quarter hour that the first Dutch opening was created by Brenet after a good combination at the right. But defensive winger Brenet choose the wrong side of the goal. After the good first half hour of the match another big chance occurred for PSV. Striker Luuk de Jong had a great opportunity to crack the match with a goal, however his header missed the goal. The greatest moment of the first half was the cheeky lob of World Cup star Memphis Depay which could barely be ticked over by the goalie.

After 59’ minutes of gameplay it was Adam Maher who opened the score by a deflected shot after a short corner from Depay. It was his first goal for PSV in 2014. It was a great relieve and the importance of this goal is great. The team lead by Cocu could play at a slower pace to spare energy for the biggest game of this season on Sunday against four-time Eredivisie champions Ajax. However, an enormous mistake from PSV defender Bruma lead Shakthyor to a chance to play even, but they missed at open goal. It stayed 1-0 for PSV and the return is still left to be played.


PSV: Pasveer, Brenet, Bruma, Rekik, Tamata, Wijnaldum, Hiljemark (Hendrix 51), Maher (Ritzmaier 88), Locadia (Narsingh 63), De Jong, Depay.

SUBS NOT USED: Zoet, Willems, Jozefzoon, Vloet.

GOALS: Maher 59.


SHAKHTYOR: Kotenko, Yamushkevich, Kashevski, Kuzianok, Galyuza (Leonchik 88), Matveychik, Stargorodsky, Yurevich, Guruli (Kovalev 89), Yanush (Osipenko 85), Rios.

SUBS NOT USED: Tsevan, VasilevskI.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Kuzmainok 66, Stargorodsky 70, Kashevski 73.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Qarabag FK 0-0 FC Twente






FC Twente held Azerbaijan champions Qarabağ FK in a lacklustre 0-0 draw to begin their Europa League campaign reports Will Burns.

New signing from Heerenveen, Hakim Ziyech made his first appearance for Twente and playing in the middle with Kamohelo Mokotjo was a mouth-watering prospect pre-game. However, despite exchanging passes well, they failed to create the clear cut chances that were expected of them.

The opening half was poor with only Twente keeper Nick Marsman tested the once to prevent Azerbaijani international striker Vüqar Nadirov from long range, a few minutes before the interval.

After the break, Twente had the majority of the play and Swedish defender Rasmus Bengtsson nearly gave the Alfred Schreuder’s men the lead, but Qarabağ captain Rashad Sadygov had a lucky escape and cleared the Swede’s header off the line.

The game dwindled out and in the last 15 minutes you could see Twente were happy with the draw and take the Azerbaijan side back to Enschede next Thursday with no goals in the tie. Twente will be confident of advancing but will need to step it up to make sure of a positive outcome.


QARABAĞ: Sehic, Qarayev, Medvedev, Sadygov, Guseynov, Reynaldo, Muarem (Alaskarov 67), Agolli, Dias (Tagiyev 56), Richard, Leroy George (Nadirov 29).

SUBS NOT USED: Veliyev, Quilyev, Yusifov, Teli.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Medvedev 35.

FC TWENTE: Marsman, Martina, Lachman, Bengtsson, Schilder, Mokotjo, Ebecilio, Ziyech (Eghan 77), Mokhtar, Castaignos (Børven 90+4), Kusk (Hölscher 69).

SUBS NOT USED: Stevens, Andersen, Koppers, Breukers.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Castaignos 35, Kusk 45, Hölscher 86.


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After today, PSV will have qualified for the fourth qualifying round Europa League competition with an aggregated 2-4 win for PSV, they barely defeat Austrian underdogs St. Polten today with 2-3.

PSV has qualified for the play-off round of the Europa League in a filled 8,000 people NV Arena. It ended tonight with 2-3 for PSV and therefor they defeated ST. Polten. But it didn’t do it with a lot of conviction. The first hour was terrible with a lot of bad passing and terrible ball-contact moments of Phillip Cocu’s team. They made a lot of mistakes and let St. Polten play their own game.

However, St. Polten didn’t become real dangerous and in the 28’ minute PSV became dangerous with a great counter initiated by Adam Maher. Marcel Ritzmaier let Jurgen Locadia score the 1-0 with a diagonal goal. ST. Polten needed to make at least 3 goals to still win the match and it was a Goliath task by the Austrian underdog. But never lacking in support from the Austrian fans. The first real dangerous moment came from a slipper from Dutch defender Jeffry Bruma, but the attempt from Daniel Segovia landed just near the goal.

After the rest PSV’s game didn’t get any better. World Cup-star Memphis Depay started warming-up and proved to be of great value for PSV. Because just under a hour ST. Polten set the score straight and made the 1-1 after a long distant goal from forward Segovia. A fault of PSV keeper, who slipped, caused the keeper to lack to stop the attempt. 1-1. This caused St.Polten to believe in there chances and they pushed forward.

The much spoken Tottenham-target Memphis Depay was able to immediately score the 1-2 after a lucky PSV attack in the 68’ minute. 2 minutes later an assist from the same World Cup-star made Luuk de Jong score the 1-3 and PSV was certain to advance in the Europa League.

Konstatin Kerschbaumer, St. Polten best man today, restored there honour by making the 2-3 in extra time. But it didn’t matter. PSV is through with a poor game and result. One thing is for sure, the defense need some great investments otherwise it will be a tough year for PSV.


PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Hendrix, Tamata, Maher, Hiljemark, Ritzmaier (Depay, 65), Narsingh (Arias 73’), De Jong, Locadia.

SUBS NOT USED: Pasveer, Koch, Wijnaldum, De Wijs, Boljevic.

GOALS: Locadia, 28., Memphis Depay, 68’, Luuk de Jong, 70.

BOOKINGS: Bruma 88’

ST. POLTEN: Kostner, Huber, Wislo, Grasegger, Holzmann (Ambichi 65), Stec, Parada Calvillo, Kerschbaumer, Hofbauer, Segovia (Noel 76), Fucik (Hartl 46).

SUBS NOT USED: Riegler, Brandl, Schibany, Hayden.

GOALS: Daniel Lucas Segovia, 56’., Konstatin Kerschbaumer, 90+3.



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SKN ST. PÖLTEN vs. PSV (18:00 BST)

After Thursday PSV will have qualified for the fourth qualifying round Europa League competition. However, it will not be as easy as many would have thought it would. Lawk Raoof suggests you read this preview to know why it won’t be easy to win.

PSV won the first game home with a marginal 1-0 against Austria newcomer Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten. After a goal from Luuk de Jong who has immediately re-paid some of his summer transfer fee with a crucial goal. However, the Austrians have proven themselves to be physical strong and well-organised and ff there is something that PSV lacks is to play good against well-organized teams, especially without World Cup stars Georginio Wijnaldum & Memphis Depay. This explains the minimal 1-0 win but don’t worry these key-players have had one week of training and will highly likely be deployed as substitutes during the game to pull the game in favor of PSV.

With St. Pölten having 8,000 supporters backing them up and having the home-advantage, I can see PSV winning the game with only a 2-1 scoreline. For some people this is no disappointing outcome, however PSV is a top team and should walk all over the Austrians with at least four or five goals. However, missing key-players in every line it is obvious that Philip Cocu needs to pull everything out of the closet to make this win.

The most likely formation is: Zoet (GK), Tamata (LB), Hendrix (CB), Bruma (CB), Brenet (RB), Hiljemark (CDM), Wijnaldum (CDM), Maher (AM), Locadia (LF), De Jong (CF), Narsingh (RF)

I recommend placing a small stake at Bet Victor on PSV to win 2-1 at 15/2. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and hit a wall like they did in the first game. However, considering the World Cup players are back and Depay and Santiago Arias can be used as aces when it turns bad Cocu should win this game.

BEST BET: PSV to win 2-1 (15/2 – Bet Victor)


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PSV may rue the missing opportunities inside the Philips Stadion tonight as they will travel to Austria next week with a slender 1-0 lead over SKN St Pölten.

Philip Cocu chose a young side to face the Austrian Eerst Liga side with new signing Luuk de Jong spearheading the attack. Jeroen Zoet started in goal with an inexperienced back-four of Joshua Brenet, Jorrit Hendrix, Jeffrey Bruma and Abel Tamata ahead of him. In midfield, Oskar Hiljemark, Adam Maher and Marcel Ritzmaier lined up, with the latter returning from a successful period on loan at Cambuur last year. On the wings supporting De Jong saw Luciano Narsingh and Jurgen Locadia looking to supply the chances.

Although a young eleven was selected, the expectations inside the Philips Stadion was that PSV would send St. Polten back home with a hiding. That did not materialise. The Austrians arrived well organised and out to stifle the Eredivisie giants and stifle they did.

PSV could not get the ball into the box without an Austrian head or foot booting it away. No matter how much possession the hosts had they were unable to test the St. Polten goalkeeper Patrick Kostner. The major threats, ironically came from PSV’s Austrian midfielder Ritzmaier but he could not get his efforts from outside of the box on target.

After the team went into the break goal-less, PSV emerged with a grip on the game and the opening goal finally came on 56 minutes. Luciano Narsingh weaved some magic and placed a pin-point accurate ball to the back post where Luuk de Jong was waiting to head home.

Unable to add a second goal, it got worse late on for PSV. Stupidly, substitute Florain Jozefzoon received a double booking within four minutes by referee Slavko Vinčić for diving.

PSV head to Austria next week with the goal advantage and will need to improve if they wish to comfortably enter the next round.


PSV: Zoet, Brenet, Bruma, Hendrix, Tamata, Maher, Hiljemark, Ritzmaier (Vloet 78), Narsingh (Jozefzoon 72), De Jong, Locadia.

SUBS NOT USED: Pasveer, Koch, Leemans, De Wijs, Boljevic.

GOALS: De Jong 56.

BOOKINGS: De Jong 80, Jozefzoon 90.

SENT OFF: Jozefzoon 90+3.

ST. POLTEN: Kostner, Huber, Wislo, Grasegger, Holzmann (Ambichi 65), Stec, Parada Calvillo, Kerschbaumer, Hofbauer, Segovia (Noel 76), Fucik (Hartl 46).

SUBS NOT USED: Riegler, Brandl, Schibany, Hayden.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Segovia 30.


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PSV vs. SKN ST. PÖLTEN (18:00 BST)

Philip Cocu’s PSV should have no trouble disposing Austrian side St. Pölten, a team the Eindhoven side ironically defeated 1-0 away in a friendly with a very under strengthen squad earlier this month.

The Austrians do not play in the top flight and last season qualified for Europe for the first time. Qualification was gained by reaching the Austrian Cup final and although they were defeated 4-2 by Red Bull Salzburg, due to Salzburg winning the Austrian Bundesliga and competing in the Champions League this season, they find themselves in the Europa League qualifying stages. In the last round, they defeated Botev Plovdiv of Bulgaria over the two legs. Losing the first leg 2–1 but overcoming the Bulgarians 2-0 in the second leg to win 3-2 on aggregate.

To give them their full name, Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten play in the Erste Liga and should prove no threat to PSV over the two legs. In fact for this first leg game, Bet Victor has them as major underdogs to win the match at 12/1.

I recommend placing a small stake on PSV to win 4-0 at 11/1 with Bet Victor. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and as always, play the attacking style they are accustom to. Although, Cocu will be without World Cup stars, Santiago Arias, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay, they have enough firepower to blow the Austrians away.

New signing from Mönchengladbach, Luuk de Jong, will be look to notch on his full debut at the Philips Stadion if he selected ahead of Jürgen Locadia. Sitting behind the striker will be Adam Maher, Oskar Hijlemark and Stijn Schaars who are all capable of scoring goals. Marcel Ritzmaier, himself an Austrian, may push for a start ahead of one of those three, after returning from a successful period on loan at SC Cambuur last year.

Another competent goal getter, Florian Jozefzoon should start on the right-wing with 20-year-old Mohamed Rayhi and 18-year-old Montenegrin Aleksandar Boljević vying for the right-wing slot after impressing in friendlies.

With a back four boasting Dutch internationals Jeffrey Bruma and Jetro Willems, in the midst of Jeroen Zoet in goal, St. Pölten will find it hard unearthing the PSV net.

BEST BET: PSV to win 4-0 (11/1 – Bet Victor)


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