Luca de la Torre was one of the lone bright spots for returning USMNT players, putting in a solid performance for Heracles in an important road win.
Fortuna Sittard 0 – 2 Heracles Almelo
Four days and a long flight after playing the second half in the USA’s final qualifying game in Costa Rica, iron-man Luca de la Torre went the distance for Heracles in a shut-out victory over Fortuna Sittard.
While Heracles did enter the international break with a couple teams and five points between them and the relegation places, the fact that they had not won in their previous four was a cause for concern, putting pressure on them to take full points in Sunday’s road trip to then-16th-place Sittard.
The American made a quick turnaround from his international travel, playing the full game in the midfield, completing 88% of his 43 attempted passes, setting up one shot attempt early in the second half, and winning the majority of his 11 duels on the ground.
A scoreless first half seemed to key up what would be a nervy finish, however Giacomo Quagliata put the hosts ahead in the 58th minute, storming into the left side of the area and unleashing a low shot to the near post that was too powerful for Yanick van Osch to block.
Eight minutes later, Sinan Bakis put the game to rest with a second goal for Heracles, taking a short pass forward from Emil Hansson just outside the six-yard box, and lashing his shot to the lower left corner for the 2-0 decider.
Sittard were far from toothless despite the shut-out, holding more than half of possession and forcing Heracles keeper Koen Bucker into a man-of-the-match performance with six saves, however they were unable to find a way to come back despite a late flurry.
The victory does wonders for Heracles’ position, as they now have an eight-point gap above the relegation places with only six games left in the schedule.
They will be back in action on Sunday, presumably with de la Torre in the midfield, when Cole Bassett and Feyenoord visit Almelo.
Cole Bassett got garbage-time minutes, coming on the field as a substitute in the 93rd minute in Feyenoord’s 2-0 home victory over Willem II on Saturday.
Richard Ledezma didn’t make it off the bench during PSV Eindhoven’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Twente, a game which saw them come back from an early three-goal deficit to earn a point.