Eredivisie Roundup: Many Struggle, Feyenoord & PSV Remain Perfect

Eredivisie

The weekend kicked off on Friday night in Breda, with newly-promoted NAC Breda looking for their first point of the new season. Sparta Rotterdam were the visitors and it looked like they would head home with nothing to show due to goals from Pablo Marí and Rai Vloet right before and after halftime. Alex Pastoor will be frustrated with his side’s set-piece defending, as the goals occurred from a free kick and corner routine.

Sparta rebounded with a set-piece goal of their own in the 70th, as substitute German striker Ragnar Ache headed home from close proximity. Ache, a 19-year-old, scored the equalizer in the 84th minute from a similar position – this time from open play with his boot. Breda will be upset having lost a 2-goal lead, but they at least have a point now.

Vitesse dropped points for the first time this season, albeit to a good AZ Alkmaar. AZ striker Wout Weghorst’s brace – assisted both times by Marko Vejinovic – bookended an exciting match in the 3rd and 81st minutes. New striker Tim Matavz captured an equalizer in the second half thanks to a magisterial Bryan Linssen assist, but Vejinovic supplied a great curler of his own for Weghorst to gift the traveling AZ fans three points. Both sides are now on 6 points from three matches.

ADO Den Haag showed little resistance against losing their third match to start the season against Heerenveen – a match ending 1-2 to the latter. Heerenveen’s new right-back signing Denzel Dumfries looks like an absolute steal at €750k; the 21-year-old has provided four assists in the opening three matches. Two of those came in the second half, both to the feet of Morten Thorsby. The first, a looping cross for a simple tap in. The second, a dashing run to the byline before finding a channel through the defence like Moses in the Red Sea.

Heerenveen keeper Wouter van der Steen found himself subject to criticism in the 78th minute by missing a punch following a corner. The mistake allowed Bjorn Johnsen to urge the ball over the line with his shoulder. Den Haag couldn’t quite mount a comeback against the clear deserved winners though, and Heerenveen got their first win of the new season. ADO, on the other hand, find themselves point-less.

PEC Zwolle (the greatest team name ever) continue their undefeated start to the season with a 2-0 win against struggling Twente. Defender Bram van Polen aided Youness Mokhtar with a one-two pass on the edge of the area for the latter to strike a long shot in the 33rd minute. John van’t Schip’s Zwolle completely played Twente off of the pitch, although the second goal didn’t come until captain van Polen’s penalty in the 78th. Zwolle are in fine form with 7 points, but Twente remain on zero.

Heracles Almelo took on Excelsior Rotterdam in a fight both teams would’ve hoped to win, but a 2-2 draw was on the cards. Heracles’ Brandley Kuwas continued his fine form with a trademark blistering longshot with his strong left foot in the 15th minute. It took a matter of seconds for Excelsior to respond –an equally impressive take on and low shot by Luigi Bruins to equalize. Paul Gladon’s chipped shot tricked in to re-gift Heracles the lead, but Zakaria El Azzouzi’s shot glanced off the post for Jinty Caenpeel to tap in another equalizer. Heracles will be happy with their ability to score without soon-to-be sold Samuel Armenteros, but not so much to concede two points to Excelsior.

Champions Feyenoord stay perfect with a straight-forward 5-0 win against Willem II, who haven’t quite been so fortunate thus far. Two Jens Toornstra headers and longshots from Steven Berghuis and Tonny Vilhena resigned Willem to defeat before the halftime whistle blew to signal a complete and utter unshackling of Holland’s greatest attack. Jean-Paul Boëtius’ late penalty brought the score to 5, but the story of the second half was of 16-year-old debutant Cheick Toure. The youngster didn’t look out of place on the pitch and is a great representation of Feyenoord’s successful youth system. While Feyenoord climb top of the table, Willem end up as polar opposites in last place.

AFC Ajax completed a tidy victory over VVV-Venlo in the latter’s quaint yet rambunctious stadium. The first half was quite dull as both sides cancelled each other out well, but a tactical change by Marcel Keizer at halftime saw Ajax switch to somewhat of a 3-1-4-2. It clearly worked as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s header found Donny van de Beek open for the first goal on 55 minutes. David Neres added a second in the 70th: a deft touch to finesse the ball over the keeper and into the goal. Ajax will be satisfied with the result following their failure to qualify for the Europa League, but VVV will take solace in the fact that their first loss of the season was a well-fought match against Ajax.

PSV Eindhoven easily beat Roda JC on Sunday to maintain a perfect record thanks to early goals from Jürgen Locadia and Hirving Lozano. In the ninth minute, Marco van Ginkel’s lofted through ball found the striker free on goal, an opportunity he gladly took by driving a low, powerful shot past the keeper. Lozano’s wasn’t quite as pretty, but the Mexican international gladly pounced on Locadia’s saved shot and smashed it to send PSV 2 goals ahead only 24 minutes in. PSV largely controlled the rest of the match, resigning Roda to yet another defeat.

Two strong sides in Groningen and Utrecht faced off in Noord-Holland on Sunday and, despite the away side’s top form, the former won 2-1. In the eighth minute Django Warmerdem’s brilliant run and finish sent the crowd into a frenzy. Before halftime, Jesper Drost’s goal gave birth to an even larger cheer – a cheer especially loud due to the Groningen’s underdog status. Utrecht’s Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck scored a goal on his début in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his side’s first defeat of the season.

Player of the Week: Marko Vejinovic (AZ) – 2 assists, 7 key passes, 7 tackles.

Result of the Week: AZ Alkmaar – 2-1 away win against Vitesse.

Disappointment of the Week: ADO Den Haag – 1-2 home loss to Heerenveen.