• Monday, 13 September 2010

    Willem II pay the penalty: Eredivisie reviews

    VVV Venlo 1-2 Twente
    Ajax 2-0 Willem II
    PSV 3-1 NEC
    Heerenveen 2-1 Vitesse
    Excelsior 2-1 Heracles
    AZ 1-2 Roda JC
    NAC 2-0 Feyenoord
    ADO 2-2 De Graafschap
    Groningen 1-0 Utrecht

    It was never going to be easy for Willem II. In 36 previous attempts at beating Ajax in Amsterdam previous to this weekend, they'd failed 36 times, conceding 136 while scoring just 20. Only four of those 36 games were draws and the two clubs occupied diametrically opposite positions on the league ladder. Given all that, what you don't want to do is give Luis Suarez any excuse to go down in the box, but a stupid lunge from Arjan Swinkels saw the gravitationally challenged Uruguayan take a tumble and the referee point to the spot. Swinkels saw yellow, Suarez tucked the spot kick away. That was ten minutes before the break. Fast forward to ten minutes after it, and Niek Vossebelt's tap on the back of Suarez's legs saw the great man go flying once again and again he stepped up to put the penalty away. Same side, but too good for the keeper who guessed correctly this time.

    Despite the win, Ajax are bumped off the top of the table by one goal as PSV beat NEC after going behind late in the first half to a John Goossens free-kick from way downtown. Danny Koevermans levelled seconds after the break, getting on the end of a sweeping move to tap in at the near post and two quickfire goals midway through the second period settled matters. Ibrahim Afellay turned his would-be marker inside out before firing in from 18 yards and Ola Toivonen headed a third to send PSV top. The Twente defence was breached for the first time this season, but the champions did get their third straight win. They went in front on the half hour with Bryan Ruiz's first of the campaign, the Costa Rican exchanging passes on the edge of the box before driving it past a well-beaten keeper. A clumsy challenge by Nacer Chadli on Michael Timisela gave VVV the opportunity to level from the penalty spot, Patrick Paauwe sending Nikolay Mihaylov the wrong way. VVV keeper Dennis Gentenaar was keeping his side in with a shout of a point with a string of excellent saves, none better than a flying effort to divert a curling Ruiz effort that looked destined for the top corner. He was beaten 20 minutes from time as a long range shot from Roberto Rosales took a nick off a defender, wrong-footing Gentenaar and creeping in the bottom corner. The other unbeaten side are Groningen. For all we keep saying Groningen are physical - they are - they can also play some football and this was an open encounter with some flowing football. Chances came at both ends, but the deadlock was only broken five minutes from time after Michael Silberbauer upended Tim Matavz in the box and Andreas Granqvist put his foot right through the resulting penalty. Pick that one out.

    Heerenveen left it very late to get past Vitesse who were in front midway through the second half through Davy Propper's long range shot which bounced unkindly just in front of the keeper. Just two minutes remained when Filip Djuricic was upended in the box and Roy Beerens stuck the penalty away. Oussama Assaidi won it with the last kick of the game, picked out six yards from goal and he threaded it inside the back post. Excelsior won on home 'turf' again, coming from behind this time after Mark Jan Fledderus had Heracles ahead on the half hour. Roland Bergkamp levelled it on 60 minutes and Leen van Steensel won it fifteen minutes later. Excelsior are up to sixth. AZ went down to Roda, Willem Janssen with the winner early in the second half after Rasmus Elm had got the Alkmaarders back level in response to Laurent Delorge's early opener. Feyenoord paid for their inability to convert chances in going down to NAC. Robbert Schilder got both goals late on, the first a nice drive which beat Rob van Dijk at his near post. The second was a free-kick deep in stoppage time which came when Bruno Martins Indi pulled down Matthew Amoah and, as last man back, was sent off. From an inch outside the box, it's often said there's not space to get it up and back down again, so Schilder bent it round the wall instead. Nice. Hugo Bargas struck twice to rescue a point for De Graafschap after ADO had built up a 2-0 lead. Dmitri Bulykin put ADO in front after ten minutes, prodding it in from close range as De Graafschap failed to clear, and Kevin Visser doubled the lead with twenty minutes left, found unmarked in the box 10 yards out for a simple tap-in. Bargas pulled one back almost instantly, showing great control with head and left foot to take it round the defence to open up space for the shot, and he levelled things up two minutes from time with a spectacular overhead volley from 15 yards.

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