Eredivisie Roundup: Big Boys Flourish, Young Stars Strive

On the Friday fixture, Roda JC hosted much-favoured Vitesse to kick off the weekend. The home side hung in for much of the first half, but in the 40th-minute young defender Frederic Ananou failed to control a ball in his own box, gifting Tim Matavz an easy strike into the top corner. Roda – which registered 15 shots to Vitesse’s 10 – equalized in the second half after Simon Gustafson’s penalty deflected off the post before hitting keeper Remko Pasveer and crossing the line. Vitesse reclaimed the lead minutes later via Thomas Bruns’ free kick and defender Guram Kashia scored a looping header from a corner to make it a perfect 6 points from 2 matches.

New boys VVV-Venlo held another three points on Saturday against Twente – a 2-1 away win that’s sure to increase the confidence of the newly promoted side. Twente missed some great early chances – hitting the post in the second minute – but the opening goal was a blistering shot from VVV’s young striker Vito van Crooij. He had a similar chance soon after, but VVV’s second goal came from defender Jerold Promes after Twente’s keeper Jorn Brondeel missed a punch. Tom Boere pulled one goal back for the home side in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Twente from losing their second match of the year. One can clearly see that VVV is the much more enthusiastic side, while Twente look lethargic only two weeks into the season.

AZ Alkmaar’s 2-0 victory over ADO Den Haag probably flattered the losing side – John van den Brom’s side thoroughly dominated the visitors on Saturday. Wout Weghorst scored his second goal in as many matches with a first half penalty, followed in the 70th minute by teenager Guus Til’s header from Marko Vejinovic’s corner. A comprehensive victory, led by veteran Ron Vlaar at the back, saw AZ confidently rebound from last weekend’s loss at PSV.

Heracles found themselves struggling to overcome Heerenveen’s might on Saturday after a superb victory over Ajax last week. However, Robin Pröpper’s side-volley on a corner after halftime gave the away side the advantage in the Friesland. Heerenveen was disappointed not to score any chances throughout the match, but the team wouldn’t give in. After countless shots at goal in added time, it looked as though the home side wasn’t going to get the ball over the line. With less than 20 seconds to play, Heerenveen goalkeeper Wouter van der Steen lobbed the ball forward with the hope of something extremely lucky occurring – it did. Heracles failed to clear the ball as it bounced into the path Nemanja Mihajlovic, who headed it into the bottom corner. Heerenveen settled for their second draw to start the season, while Heracles can take some solace in two good results.

A Rotterdam Derby between Excelsior and Feyenoord kicked off Sunday’s fixtures, as the reigning champions were run close by their city rivals. 20 minutes in, Tonny Vilhena proved why he’s one of the league’s most promising midfielders by dribbling past incoming tackles and sliding through Jean-Paul Boëtius for an open shot into the corner – 1-0. Despite chances from both sides, that would finish as the final score. Feyenoord remain perfect thus far in their title defence campaign.

Erik ten Hag’s Utrecht got off to a flying start against Willem II on Sunday with two goals in the first seven minutes. In only the second minute, Zakaria Labyad pounced on a deflected shot, and his first touch took him into open space to slot into the back of the net. Five minutes later, Urby Emanuelson’s through ball put Lukas Görtler one-on-one with the keeper, but Timon Wellenreuther couldn’t prevent the ball from spilling out wide for Cyriel Dessers to slot into an open net, 2-0. Utrecht had a few more chances in the first half but ended up settling for the victory without too much drama.

Ajax got back to winning ways against Groningen thanks to a changeup in the attack, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Vaclav Cerny coming in to replace Kasper Dolberg and Amin Younes. Huntelaar got back on the scoresheet for Ajax – a first since 2008 – with his first half header. Hakim Ziyech doubled Ajax’s lead in the second half by quickly dribbling into open space on the left and slapping a low shot into the corner. Oussama Idrissi scored a wonder goal on 73 minutes by cutting in from the left and striking a fiery shot into the net, but Lasse Schøne matched it with a beautiful goal of his own only minutes later. The Danish veteran pulled off a quick spin-move to free himself just inside the box to rip a shot into the roof of the net.

Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle found themselves well matched against each other on Sunday, as the two sides drew 1-1. Zwolle struck first blood with some great passing play that resulted in Youness Mokhtar finding an easy scoring chance and shooting into the net. Sparta answered quickly though, as Robert Muhren’s goal in the 22nd minute drew things level. That’s how things finished in Rotterdam, as Sparta claimed their first point of the season and Zwolle stay undefeated.

NAC Breda fell victim to PSV at home 1-4: a good representation of the breadth in quality between the two sides. Steven Bergwijn’s early goal was canceled out by Thierry Ambrose’s penalty, but second half strikes from Marco van Ginkel, Hirving Lozano, and Jorrit Hendrix saw PSV run away with a convincing win. New signing Lozano is proving to be a bright spot for PSV, and the Eindhoven club will be even happier to have picked up 6 points from the opening two fixtures.

Player of the Week: Hirving Lozano (PSV) – 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 key passes

Result of the Week: VVV-Venlo – 2-1 away win against Twente

Disappointment of the Week: Willem II – 2 preventable early goals conceded against Utrecht.

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