Eredivisie Roundup: Heerenveen down PSV, A Battle for Worst Club Begins

Eredivisie

In a battle of point-less clubs, ADO Den Haag claimed an away victory over Willem II on Saturday. A half hour in, Fernando Lewis miscued a clearance and gave away a penalty immediately after – one which Abdenasser El Khayati tucked away sublimely. Willem played well throughout the rest of the game and were rewarded in the 77th minute; Ismail El Azzaoui had his cross deflected for Fran Sol to equalize with a nice half-volley. It wasn’t to be for the home side though, as El Khayati let fly from the edge of the box to claim three points in the 85th minute.

Feyenoord continued their perfect start to the season with a comfortable win against Heracles. The champions countered quickly in the 22nd minute, finishing with a Steven Berghuis long shot. Heracles once again gave the ball away in the 29th minute – Berghuis was once again the final man to arrive and scored another long shot. Feyenoord secured the points only minutes later thanks to a Jean-Paul Boëtius goal that left Heracles’ keeper standing like a statue. Reuven Niemeijer’s second half header and penalty gave the Almelo fans some hope, but new signing Sam Larsson made it 2-4 Feyenoord late on when ‘keeper Bram Castro was sent up for a corner. The Swede was left on a fast break to score in an open net. Feyenoord stay top on a perfect twelve points while Heracles remain on five.

The ever-inconsistent Ajax thoroughly defeated the visiting PEC Zwolle on Saturday to move near the top of the table. Veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s magisterial flicked goal gave the home side an early advantage, which they gladly took all the way to halftime. Hakim Ziyech had his penalty saved by former teammate Diederik Boer, but he scored in the 71st minute from a Justin Kluivert cross. Ziyech’s great through ball set up Frenkie de Jong’s cross for Huntelaar to tap in – a brace for the returning striker. That was Zwolle’s first defeat this season and Ajax’s third victory on the bounce.

Vitesse bounced back from their last loss to AZ by thrashing Excelsior 0-3. The home side’s goalkeeper Ögmundur Kristinsson missed his punch from a corner, allowing Luc Castaignos to gift Vitesse the lead right before halftime. Tim Matavz’s strong penalty in the 55th subdued the resilient Rotterdam side, and Bryan Linssen’s rocket of a goal left no one doubting the result. Vitesse find themselves in second, while Excelsior remain on 4 points from four games.

Heerenveen and PSV kicked off the Sunday matches with a very intriguing match-up. The visitors from Eindhoven were looking to extend their perfect record, but Arber Zeneli’s cracking long shot in the fourth minute dashed those hopes. Less than two minutes later, Heerenveen’s Denzel Dumfries beat his man down the wing, sending in a cross for Reza Ghoochannejhad to pummel goal-wards. Just like that, PSV were down and out. It went from bad to worse when Hirving Lozano was sent off later in the half for the Boeren. The away side never recovered, and even Ghoochannejhad’s missed penalty couldn’t deter Heerenveen from claiming three points. PSV find themselves on nine points – Heerenveen only one behind.

The score line doesn’t show it, but Utrecht beat Roda JC to a pulp this weekend. Only a minute into the match, Utrecht built up a beautiful attack that finished with Sander van de Streek slotting the ball from open space. The home side kept battering their opponents’ goal, and a second finally came in the second half, from the foot of Zakaria Labyad. Roda still find themselves without any points and Utrecht have taken nine from a possible twelve.

Twente succumbed to yet another defeat – their fourth from the first four matches – against Sparta in Rotterdam Sunday. Loris Brogno’s looping cross in the 19th minute found Craig Goodwin, who simply side-footed the incoming ball into the net. Twente carved out a few chances later in the match but couldn’t find a goal. Sparta have picked up their first win of the new season following two draws and a loss, but Twente need to make some changes quickly if they’re to survive the drop.

Newly-promoted NAC Breda nearly picked up an away result against AZ Alkmaar, but the home side edged out the three points in the end. AZ controlled 70% of the possession, but both sides were creating good chances to score. AZ made it 1-0 in the second half thanks to a Jeremy Helmer goal, and Guus Til scored a header after Joris van Overeem’s incomprehensibly skillful wrong-footed cross – merely three minutes after the first goal. Breda’s Thierry Ambrose had his penalty saved late on, but Giovanni Korte was there to knock in the rebound. It wasn’t enough though, and NAC Breda are still without a win. This was AZ’s third win on the bounce.

The final match of the weekend was contested between Groningen and VVV-Venlo, two average teams thus far. Mimoun Mahi’s early goal let the home fans in Groningen breathe a little, but his penalty was saved in the second half. The miss certainly came back to haunt him, as VVV’s substitute Kelechi Nwakali headed in an equalizing goal in added time. VVV haven’t come to the Eredivisie as a relegation-bound squad; they have what it takes to grind out results in Holland’s highest division. That tenacity has seen them remain in 8th place, while Groningen have risen to tenth.

Player of the Week: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) – 1 goal, 6 key passes, 3 shots on target, 5 successful dribbles.

Result of the Week: Heerenveen – 2-0 victory over giants PSV.

Disappointment of the Week: Willem II – 1-2 loss to potential relegation-foes ADO Den Haag.