• Monday, 4 October 2010

    Utrecht storm the Ajax fortress: Eredivisie reviews

    Vitesse 0-0 Willem II
    NAC 2-0 NEC
    Excelsior 1-2 Roda JC
    Ajax 1-2 Utrecht
    Twente 4-2 Groningen
    AZ 2-1 Heracles
    De Graafschap 1-1 Feyenoord
    Heerenveen 0-0 ADO
    PSV 3-0 VVV Venlo

    A few weeks ago, Ajax got past Willem II thanks to a brace of penalties from Luis Suarez. This week, it was Ricky van Wolfswinkel who scored twice from the spot and the first came after a ludicrous handball from Suarez as Ajax were beaten by domestic opposition at the Amsterdam ArenA for the first time since January 2009. What was going through the Uruguayans mind is anybody's guess as he threw his arms way over his head to bat high cross away - yes it was even more blatant than his World Cup transgression. Van Wolfswinkel's confidence is running high and the way he put the penalty past Maarten Stekelenburg summed it up, hitting it powerfully, high and to the keeper's left. Even if he'd gone the right way, he wasn't getting there. Eight minutes later and Edouard Duplan was brought down in the box by Eyong Enoh. Up stepped van Wolfswinkel again and put it low to Stekelenburg's right. Another classy spot kick. In a season which has seen a number of players struggle from the 12-yard mark, the young striker is right up there. And so it looked like remaining until the third minute of stoppage time when Siem de Jong rattled in a 30-yarder into the top corner, but it came far too late to alter the outcome.

    There went one of the four remaining unbeaten records and another one went south as well. Not PSV's though, as they saw off VVV Venlo thanks in no small part to the Brazilian Jonathan Reis. Ten minutes into the second half, after the first 45 hadn't produced much by way of excitement, a woefully underhit backpass allowed Reis to swoop for his first, taking it round the keeper and walking it into the net and the Eindhoveners were on their way. Wilfred Bouma is back in Dutch football after an unhappy spell with Aston Villa and he leapt highest to nod in a corner six minutes later and Reis completed the win which sent PSV back to the top of the standings, benefitting from Jeremain Lens's unselfishness as he squared the ball to the back post for his buddy rather than take the shot on himself. It's not Twente's record that's gone either, it's Groningen's who went to Enschede and suffered their first defeat of the season. More penalties here too, one from Andreas Granqvist in the 28th minute after Douglas had handled. The lead lasted just two minutes before Bryan Ruiz levelled as the Groningen penalty area turned into a duck shoot for a moment, the Costa Rican keeping his cool when all around lost theirs. Luuk de Jong was brought down in the box by the keeper a couple of minutes into the second half - a quality rugby tackle, but that cut little ice with the ref. Ruiz stepped up to put Twente in front. With eighteen minutes to go, Marc Janko headed in for 3-1, but Groningen were right back in it two minutes later, Tim Matavz controlling a really difficult volley. Twente won it with two minutes left, Ruiz springing the offside trap and squaring to Theo Janssen who chipped the keeper - a party piece which is rapidly becoming his trademark. Janssen already has twice the number of goals as he had last term and an Oranje selection to go with them. He's playing the best football of his career.

    With Ajax losing, just three points cover the top five now with Roda JC drawing level with Groningen after beating Excelsior on the plastic. If the artificial surface at the Verzekringen did hold a hoodoo, it's been trashed in the last fortnight with two losses for the Rotterdam outfit. Excelsior led at half-time through Wouter Gudde's header seven minutes from the break. Pa-Modou Ka headed Roda level twenty minutes from time and a third headed goal won it two minutes from time, Anouar Hadouir with the winner. Roda have lost just once, away to Ajax in week 2. They'll have tougher tests than this, but for now they're right in there. Not so Feyenoord who are now without a win in four. Some awful defending allowed Hugo Bargas in for the opener on 20 minutes which saw De Vijverberg go mental. The Rotterdammers did escape with a point though, Giorgino Wijnaldum going down heavily in the box though contact appeared minimal. Luigi Bruijns converted the spot kick.

    Willem II are finally off the mark, albeit thanks to a drab 0-0 with Vitesse and ADO were also held to a goalless draw by Heerenveen. NAC are on the heels of the top five despite that point deduction after beating NEC. Matthew Amoah got the first as the NEC keeper came for a hopeful cross and got nowhere near it and the win was sealed two minutes from time as Fouad Idabdelhay was given the freedom of the NEC box. Heracles remain in trouble after defeat in Alkmaar while AZ are going in the right direction. Willy Overtoom had Heracles ahead four minutes from the break with a low drive from 20 yards, but the teams went in level as Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's shot was deflected in. A goalmouth scramble a couple of minutes from time ended as the ball broke to Jonathas six yards out and he lashed in the winner.

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