Eredivisie Roundup: Exciting Opening Weekend as Ajax Upset

It’s that time of year again: time for some Eredivisie football! The Dutch first division isn’t the most glamorous, rich, or big name-filled league, but provides quality entertainment and a chance to watch future stars before they make a big move. From the colossal crowds inside De Kuip or the Amsterdam ArenA to the passionate underdog fans of teams like Excelsior, VVV, or Heracles, there’s sure to be a club you’d love to support and a stadium to visit. There’ve been plenty of goals, upsets, and excitement in the Eredivisie opening weekend!

Utrecht looks to have found its replacement for Sebastian Haller in Cyriel Dessers. The Belgian striker notched a brace in an away match at ADO Den Haag where the home side couldn’t do anything to counter Utrecht’s onslaught. The match ended 0-3 to the visitors, as Sander van de Streek dominated the midfield with a goal, three key passes, and six tackles.

VVV-Venlo started its first Eredivisie campaign since 2012/2013 in fashion by putting three past Sparta Rotterdam. Midfield star Clint Leemans forced a goalkeeping mistake by powering a longshot into Roy Kortsmit before the half before on-loan Tarik Tissoudali gave the home side a two-goal advantage after the break. Young attacker Vito van Crooij (1 goal, 1 assist) finished the job at the end of the match with a counter-attack goal.

PSV was able to outlast a pesky AZ Alkmaar side 3-2 in Eindhoven thanks in large part to new signing Hirving Lozano. The match was overshadowed by AZ’s Calvin Stengs suffering what looks like a horrible leg injury early on; we all wish him the best for his recovery. Stengs’ substitute, Dabney dos Santos, scored the first goal of the match before Lozano equalized for PSV. The Mexican winger had a few great chances minutes later, but it was Gastón Pereiro who gave PSV the lead after the break. Marco van Ginkel scored later to make it 3-1, and Wout Weghorst converted a penalty late as PSV held on to the three points.

Heracles winger Brandley Kuwas was the star of the show as his home side upset Ajax 2-1. After a mundane first half, Amin Younes displayed some great dribbling to free Hakim Ziyech up for a long shot that gave the keeper no chance. Heracles refused to throw in the towel though; Kuwas provided a great ball to Paul Gladon to equalize. After the 80th minute, Kuwas became the man of the night as he cut in on his left and sent a magnificent shot into the net from range.

Vitesse welcomed newly promoted side NAC Breda to Arnhem with a 4-1 thrashing, thanks in large part to Kosovan winger Milot Rashica’s goal and assist. Thomas Bruns, Bryan Linssen, and Tim Matavz put Vitesse ahead with three goals before the half, and Thierry Ambrose’s header was answered by Rashica with an inch-perfect long shot into the bottom corner. Vitesse looks strong going forward despite the loss of striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel this summer.

Roda JC looked poised to grab a crucial away result against PEC Zwolle after Simon Gustafson’s goal was taking his side into halftime with a lead, but Dirk Marcellis’ late equalizer dashed some hope. Later, Adil Auassar’s own goal gave Zwolle the lead, but Gustafson converted a penalty for his equalizing brace. Roda couldn’t hold on though, and Ryan Thomas’ sublime ball from the back left Mustafa Samyak open to chip the goalkeeper. Bram van Polen’s long shot ensured PEC Zwolle walked away with a confident victory, 4-2 to the home side.

Dutch champions Feyenoord squeaked by Twente to take advantage of Ajax’s slip-up by a score line of 2-1. Last season’s top scorer Nicolai Jørgensen began the new season in fine form, scoring a tap in following Jean-Paul Boëtius’ cutback pass. Twente’s young Finnish sensation Fredrik Jensen scored a fantastic shot later in the first half from outside the box to level the scores. Feyenoord wouldn’t capitulate though, as Steven Berghuis headed in Jens Toornstra’s free kick to gift the De Kuip supporters a match-winning goal.

The Roodzwarten of Excelsior Rotterdam found themselves well matched against Willem II in Tilburg but escaped with a victory. Milan Massop’s header found the post within the first half hour, but Willem’s keeper Timon Wellenreuther couldn’t prevent it from ricocheting off his hand and into the goal. In the second half, after some exquisite passing play, Excelsior’s on-loan striker Zakaria El Azzouzi found himself in loads of space in the box and was able to convert a fantastic top corner strike. Willem striker Fran Sol capitalized on a poor clearance with a goal to halve the deficit, but Excelsior held on to claim three points.

The final match of the weekend was the Derby of the North between Groningen and Heerenveen. New signing Denzel Dumfries’ cross found the head of Morten Thorsby to give Heerenveen an early lead. That goal was almost perfectly replicated at the end of the half, except it was striker Reza Ghoochannejhad who got on the end of a Dumfries cross with an easy tap in. Groningen striker Lars Veldwijk remained composed as he cut the away side’s lead in half, and Mimoun Mahi calmly converted a penalty to equalize. Mortin Thorsby scored once again in the 85th minute what looked like a certain winner, but the drama reached a crescendo when Groningen was awarded another penalty with only minutes left. Mahi converted once more and ran up to a delirious home stand. A great match to cap off an exciting Eredivisie opening weekend.

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