Ajax, PSV & Twente win, Feyenoord held – Week 23 round-up

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Eredivisie

Ajax still look likely to clicnh their fourth successive Eredivisie championship after now pulling four points clear of second placed FC Twente. Meanwhile, Feyenoord were held to a 1-1 draw at NAC Breda, seriously hampering their chances of challenging the Amsterdammers record.

Friday 14th February 2014

PSV 2-1 HERACLES

The Philips Stadion pitch was in a terrible state due to heavy rain all day on Friday which left passing across the pitch very difficult, but it was an entertaining game.

The visitors though they had taken the lead after just four minutes of play, after Moroccan midfielder Iliass Bel Hassani had floated a ball over the top of the PSV defence to play in striker Mark Uth. Unfortunately for the German, on-loan from Heerenveen, the PSV high-line had caught him out and as the 22-year-old striker was smashing the ball past Jeroen Zoet, the referees’ assistant on his right had the flag up.

A minute later, the damp Eindhoven crowd were on their feet as their side took the lead. Memphis Depay latched onto a through ball from Jürgen Locadia and the young winger twisted and turned the Heracles defenders as he entered the box. After his first powerful attempt was parried by Remko Pasveer, Depay instinctively pounced on the rebound and coolly placed it into the corner out of the keeper’s reach.

The next twenty minutes or so turned into ‘The Memphis Depay Show’. Everything went through the twenty-year-old and although he is frustrating at times with his decision making, and easily annoys the PSV faithful, the player has clearly the skill and speed to go onto bigger things in the game.

After Depay tested the reactions of Pasveer a few more times, it was the turn of Zoet to be called into action on 23 minutes. The ball came out to Mike te Wierik on the right wing, and the defender whipped in a vicious looking ball towards the penalty spot. Awaiting the delivery was Uth again, he nodded a testing header towards goals, but Zoet came out on top and tipped over the bar.

Before half-time, the Heracles pressure paid off and Jan de Jonge saw his side level the score. The in-form Bryan Linssen was the goalscorer yet again, notching his seventh goal in his last seven appearances. After receiving the ball on the edge of the area, the midfielder spun onto his right foot, slipping the challenge of Jeffrey Bruma and lashing a right foot shot past the diving Zoet. The PSV ‘keeper had no chance of stopping. Linssen, a summer signing from the relegated VVV Venlo, will certainly being observed by some of Holland’s and Europe’s top scouts in this sparkling form, and may be on the mover again this summer.

Just past the hour-mark, PSV regained the lead and it was the on-loan Bryan Ruiz scoring his first goal for the club. The always impressive Jetro Willems attacked down the left-wing and got his cross past Te Wierik. The ball took a slight deflection and fell perfectly for the arriving Fulham man at the back post to nod home with ease.

PSV started to control the play but in the dying moments of the game they needed to rely on Zoet to clinch all three points. With just a minute of normal time remaining, the young goalie needed to pull off a tremendous double save denying Moroccan substitute Oussama Tannane first then saving Uth’s rebound with his legs.

Heracles should have gained a point in the final kick of the match when it was Zoet again to PSV’s rescue. Veteran striker Berry Powel, brought on as a late substitute, nodded the ball down in the six-yard area for Uth, but the German failed to connect properly and Zoet dived on the ball to save the game for the hosts.

Philip Cocu will be pleased with his side’s gritty performance and it is wins like this that may see them creep into the automatic European qualification places. PSV currently sit just six points off second place which is certainly not out of reach at this stage.

Heracles, on the other hand, sit in 11th place only seven points from the drop zone and will need to pick up some wins soon to steer themselves away from trouble.

Saturday 15th February 2014

FC TWENTE 2-0 VITESSE

FC Twente virtually eliminated Vitesse Arnhem from the Eredivisie title race with a dominating performance topped by great shows by Luc Castaignos and Dusan Tadić.

Twente dominated the game throughout and Kelvin Leerdam, playing at right-back for Vitesse, did not make it easy for his team after just four minutes when he was shown a yellow for a foul on Quincy Promes. Leerdam was making his first appearance after serving a suspension.

The hosts should have taken the lead many times during the first-half but even more so on 13 minutes. Vitesse goalkeeper Piet Velthuizen passed the ball out of the box to Marko Vejinović, but the midfielder was under extensive pressure and the ball was stolen in a dangerous position by Luc Castaignos. The striker dished the ball out to Dušan Tadić, who returned the ball to Castaignos inside the area but the 21-year-old’s shot was straight at Velthuizen legs.

The attacks from Twente were relentless and Tadić nearly got on the scoresheet a minute later with a great low drive from the edge of the area but the shot was just wide much to Velthuizen’s relief. On 36 minutes, the Serbian was involved again. After some great link-up play between Tadić, Castaignos and Roberto Rosales ending with the Serb blasting a shot from close range but Velthuizen stayed strong and saved his side yet again.

Vitesse struggled to get involved and were restricted to just one shot on target within the game but Vejinović’s rare chance came close in the 37th minute. However, the midfielder’s strike from 35 yards out was inches wide of Nick Marsman’s left post.

Michel Jansen must have been wondering how his side was not in the lead come the half-time whistle especially after missing a glorious chance three minutes before. Jan-Arie van der Heijden was caught in possession by Shadrach Eghan and the Ghanaian spotted a Kyle Ebecilio run in the area. Ebecilio was under pressure from Guram Kashia and the Georgian defender did just enough to direct the former Arsenal youth’ shot into Velthuizen’s arms.

The first goal finally came ten minutes after the interval. Luc Castaignos outpaced Leerdam to latch onto a Dico Koppers through ball and the striker made no mistake this time, calmly finishing past the onrushing keeper.

On the hour mark, the visitors were reduced to ten men as Chelsea loanee Patrick van Aanholt tackled Tadić from behind and was shown a straight red from referee Pieter Vink.

The chemistry between Tadić and Castaignos is growing game by game and with twelve minutes remaining the two combined to double the lead and seal the points for Twente. The two exchanged a wonderful one-two leading to Dusan Tadić wonderfully chipping Velthuizen with great composure. The Serbian is truly to most valuable player in the Eredivisie right now with four goals and four assists in the six games in 2014.

The win means Twente are just a point away from leaders Ajax as Vitesse are now without a win in five games and Peter Bosz must be feeling that the challenge of the club’s first ever Eredivisie title must be out of reach now.

RKC WAALWIJK 1-3 NEC NIJMEGEN

Anton Janssen’s NEC came back from conceding an early goal to earn a vital 3-1 win at RKC Waalwijk, this was the Nijmegen’s side first league victory on the road this season.

NEC nearly took the lead within the opening few minutes after a great move by Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Kevin Conboy. The Iranian laid the ball into Conboy who chest passed it back to the 20-year-old winger but his sliding effect crashed off the post.

The hosts took the lead on six minutes with Romeo Castelen’s fourth goal of the season. Kenny Anderson and Daniel de Ridder combined until the ball fell perfectly for Castelen to hit a low drive past Swedish keeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.

The visitors were close to equalising minutes later but Conboy’s effort was tipped onto the bar by Jan Šeda. However, Janssen did not have to wait much longer to see the game turned around for his side.

After a long free-kick from deep was nodded down by English striker Michael Higdon on 25 minutes, Navarone Foor was on hand to finish from close range. With six minutes to go before the half-time whistle, the visitors took the lead. Club captain Ryan Koolwijk launched a free-kick from the left which met Lasse Nielsen’s glancing header at the front post to make it 2-1.

After the break, the points were almost cemented on 54 minutes. A corner from Koolwijk was headed by Jahanbakhsh, and the Iranian international flicked his effort towards goal, but it took a deflection off Evander Sno and onto the crossbar.

The win was clinched by Michael Higdon on 71 minutes to give NEC a great away win. Combining down the right, Jahanbakhsh and Søren Rieks crossed in for the Englishman to mishit a volley which ended up in the goal anyways.

RKC drop to 13th just two points off the relegation places with NEC lifted out of the drop zone into 15th.

RODA JC 0-1 ADO DEN HAAG

ADO enjoyed a narrow 1-0 victory with Roda coach Jon Dahl Tomasson facing an uphill struggle to keep his side up as they sit rock bottom of the league.

In what was billed as a vital relegation battle, it was poor game in front of 14,000 supporters inside the Parkstad Limburg Stadion, which proved why both sides are at the bottom of the division. The fans endured a horrible first-half with no clear cut chances for either side.

The only excitement of the first 45 minutes came just before the half-time whistle when ADO were denied a penalty by referee Kevin Blom. Video replays showed that the visitors had a viable argument as Ard van Peppen had handled the ball in the area.

Mitchell Schet scored the only goal on 53 minutes, finishing a rebound from a Yanic Wildschut effort after Filip Kurto had blocked the original chance.

Kurto was called into action again with better consequences for him as he saved a Danny Bakker header minutes later from a great free-kick crossed in by Danny Holla.

With both sides desperate for points the action heated up with ten minutes to go. Substitiute Marc Höcher crossed for Mitchell Donald but his header was by goalkeeper Robert Zwinkels, filling in for Gino Coutinho.

In stoppage time, Roda should have clinched a point but Wiljan Pluim nodded his effort straight at Zwinkels feet.

The whistle was blown for full-time and Roda were roundly jeered off the pitch by their fans. The battle for ADO Den Haag is not over as they still sit third bottom in the relegation playoff places. Both sides are struggling to score goals and need to find some firepower soon otherwise they stand no chance of leaving the drop zone.

AZ ALKMAAR 1-1 FC UTRECHT

Dick Advocaat’s AZ Alkmaar missed out on the opportunity to move closer to the top five when they were held 1-1 by Jan Wouters’ FC Utrecht.

It was a quiet opening twenty minutes inside the AFAS Stadion and when the action livened up it was the visitors that nearly took the lead. Australian Tommy Oar whipped in a vicious free-kick that missed everyone and forced a great save from AZ keeper Esteban.

A minute later, the action went up the other end and produced a goal. Down the left Roy Beerens crossed into the front post where American striker Aron Johannsson met the ball with a diving header giving Robbin Ruiter no chance of saving.

Utrecht battled on and got back in the game with Steve de Ridder being the main threat testing Esteban on many occasions but failed to make a breakthrough.

After the break, Utrecht’s Jens Toornstra hit a perfect free-kick on 55 minutes to level the scores. Jeffrey Gouweleeuw fouled the tricky Oar on the edge of the area and Toornstra hit the resulting kick into the top corner with great precision.

The score stayed 1-1 even though Toornstra nearly repeated the act on 82 minutes but his free-kick was just too high for the target.

Utrecht coach Wouters, already under great pressure are now just two points adrift of the relegation spots and will look to get more points hosting FC Groningen next Sunday. AZ face a tough away trip to the Amsterdam Arena next weekend and could have done with the three points in this game to help their Europa League aspirations.

Sunday 16th February 2014

SC CAMBUUR 3-1 PEC ZWOLLE

Some atrocious defending from Ron Jans’ PEC Zwolle cost them as Cambuur clinched yet another win at home to lift them out of the bottom three.

Cambuur confirms strong home form with victory at PEC

It was an excellent first half for Dwight Lodeweges’s side who found themselves two goals to the good at the break. The first came after just nine minutes with Austrian midfielder Marcel Ritzmaier scoring with an excellent chip. Mohamed El Makrini picked up the ball in midfield and spotted Ritzmaier running down the left wing. The midfielder, on-loan from PSV, received the pass and skipped past Giovanni Gravenbeek to run through on goal. Zwolle goalkeeper Diederik Boer rushed out to close Ritzmaier down, but the Austrian delicately lobbed the ball into the empty net. The Cambuur Stadion erupted in delight as Ritzmaier celebrated with teammates at the corner flag.

Zwolle could not find their rhythm against the relentless and resilient hosts and five minutes before half-time the lead was doubled. Again, the defending from the visitors was awful. Jody Lukoki had plenty time to float in a cross from the right-wing withMartijn Barto and Elvis Manu queuing in the box to attack. Unmarked Manu failed to get his shot off and as Zwolle’s Bram van Polen and Joost Broerse unsuccessfully cleared the ball, Barto finished with ease. Jans was not happy on the bench obviously getting psyched up for his team-talk at the interval.

It could have been worse for the visitors a few minutes before the break after a good Cambuur counter attack. However, Ritzmaier lacked composure this time round and blasted his effort over the crossbar when he was one-on-one with Boer.

Unfortunately for Zwolle’s travelling fans, the trip did not get any better in the second half. Six minutes in, Broerse’s nightmare continued only half clearing a corner with a weak header and the ball landed to the feet of Barto again. The striker, who was told by Lodeweges he was surplus to requirements in January, did not hesitate and hit a first time volley past Boer to make it three and will not two easier goals in the Eredivisie.

There was time for the away side to get a consolation goal with Polish midfielderMateusz Klich notching on the edge of the box on 78 minutes.

Once again, Cambuur proved they can hold their own in this league and with such an encouraging performance one has to think they should add more pressure to Jon Dahl Tomasson next Saturday. The Dane brings his Roda side to the Cambuurstadion in a vital relegation battle, as today’s victors, Cambuur will look for victory again to retain their status in the Eredivisie.

NAC BREDA 1-1 FEYENOORD

After missing various chances in front of goal, Feyenoord lost some ground in the title race after being held 1-1 at NAC Breda.

After an impressive start, Ronald Koeman’s men took the lead with a well taken goal from right-back Daryl Janmaat on 25 minutes. The Dutch international received the ball on the right-wing and looked to have played the ball on the edge of the box to Lex Immers. Immers dodged the ball as Janmaat continued his run into the area; Graziano Pellè collected the ball and laid it into the path of the full-back who finished beautifully with his left boot.

Just before the break, against the run of play, NAC drew level with a spot-kick. After Anouar Hadouir had smashed a shot against the bar, Feyenoord defender Miquel Nelom handballed Danny Verbeek’s rebound shot and referee Bas Nijhuis pointed to the spot. Rydell Poepon sent Erwin Mulder the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

As the game went on NAC goalkeeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar became the man of the match saving everything Feyenoord could throw at him. The keeper saved a great unexpected point for his side which they were lucky to hold on to especially when substitute Stipe Perica was sent off for a challenge on Janmaat late on.

Feyenoord stay in third but are now seven points off leaders Ajax while Breda are 10th six points clear of the relegation battle.

FC GRONINGEN 1-0 GO AHEAD EAGLES

Groningen finally clinched their first win of 2014 with a narrow 1-0 win over Go Ahead Eagles.

The hosts gained the win by a Tjarron Chery goal surrounded in controversy after just three minutes. From the edge of the area, Chery fired into the bottom corner that gave Eagles keeper Stephan Andersen had no chance of saving. Video replays showed that due to disgraceful state of the penalty area, the ball took a wicked bounce over the goalie’s palm when it looked like the Danish keeper had it covered.

Eagles pressed for an equaliser with Denis Türüç being the main oracherstrator for any Go Ahead chance by Marco Bizot had a good day in goal and kept a clean sheet and all three points for his side.

AJAX 3-0 HEERENVEEN

Danish midfielder Lasse Schöne notched a hat-trick as Ajax saw off Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen to go four points clear at the top of Eredivisie. It was quite fitting that fellow Dane Christian Eriksen had returned to the Amsterdam ArenA with a hero’s welcome.

The Tottenham Hotspur star was given a standing ovation before the game by the Amsterdam fans, as Frank de Boer also said a few kind words about the player. Eriksen was not the only visitor on Sunday, as UEFA president Michel Platini was on hand to present Johan Cruyff with an award.

The hosts exploded out of the blocks and should have been ahead within just two minutes of play. A Schöne corner was fed to Niclas Moisander at the back post but the defender hit his shot against the post and out.

The defending champions thought they were 1-0 up on 6 minutes when Viktor Fischer finished a nice move by Schone but the young Dane was wrongly adjudged to being offside.

Ajax finally got ahead on 12 minutes when Joey van den Berg brought down Siem de Jong in the area and Lasse Schöne stepped up to score his first of three.

The Dane got his second penalty just four minutes later when referee Pol van Boekel penalised Stefano Marzo for a handball in the area. Schöne converted the spot-kick even though Heerenveen goalie Kristoffer Nordfeldt got a hand on it.

Ajax were very impressive and dominated throughout, so much so that Van Basten’s men failed to register a single shot on target within the 90 minutes.

The score was wrapped up with another Schöne with just eight minutes remaining, with fellow Dane Fischer stepping the hat-trick hero up.

This was a much improved performance from De Boer’s side and a performance fitting of defending champions. With Ajax being now four points clear and with no other side with games in hand, it’s looking more and more likely that De Boer will have his hands on a fourth consecutive Eredivisie championship.

STANDINGS

140216 - Eredivisie

Table courtesy of Fifa.com

WillBurns

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