Luca de la Torre

Cole Bassett put in his longest and arguably strongest appearance in Feyenoord’s win, while Luca de la Torre and Heracles will have to wait until the final round of games to secure their top-flight status.

RKC Waalwijk 2 – 0 Heracles

Luca de la Torre took up his usual starting spot in the Heracles midfield, but was unable to help them avoid dropping yet another game, to leave their survival to the season’s final act.

The American international played the full game on the left side of the three-man midfield trotted out by head coach Frank Wormuth, taking a pair of shots, completing 87% of his 31 pass attempts, and setting up a chance for teammate Sinan Bakis late in the first half.

However, the most notable action by the San Diego native was an unforced mistake that was largely responsible for the opening – and ultimately winning – goal by their opponents at the 20-minute mark.

While fighting for possession of a loose ball just inside his team’s half of the field, de la Torre attempted an ill-advised back-pass to his keeper, however hit the ball far too weakly. A trio Waalwijk attackers immediately pounced on the mistake, with Finn Stokkers running onto the loose ball in the left side of the area and squaring it to Michiel Kramer near the penalty spot, for an easy low strike into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.

Despite the early setback, Heracles did hold their own, and overall played a fairly even game against their opponents, splitting possession down the middle, although having some issues to translate it into any real threat to the hosts.

Waalwijk finally added a second goal just before the hour mark, coming seemingly from nowhere. Their keeper Etienne Vaessen launched a goal kick deep into the Heracles territory, where Kramer bounced a no-look header over his back toward goal.

As luck would have it, the ball landed directly in the path of Richard van der Venne just inside the right side of the area, and with his first touch he poked a high lob over Heracles keeper Koen Bucker, who had mistakenly come off his line, inside the far post to wrap up the 2-0 win.

The loss means that Heracles are still not yet mathematically safe from dropping into the relegation playoff spot in the upcoming final round of games.

Currently in 14th place, they would need to lose to 15th-place Sparta Rotterdam and see 16th-place Fortuna Sittard pull off an upset on their visit to Nijmegen in order to drop into the playoff.

While the odds still favor their survival, they still need to manage a draw to remove all doubt in what they hope will be their final game of the season on Sunday afternoon when the host Sparta.

Go Ahead Eagles 0 – 1 Feyenoord

Cole Bassett had his longest and arguably overall strongest outing so far since joining Feyenoord, playing the entire second half as an attacking reinforcement in their narrow 1-0 road win over Go Ahead Eagles.

Feyenoord came into the game in a nearly unassailable position in their hunt for Europa League qualification, giving head coach Arne Slot some leeway to experiment with his lineup.

While Slot did rotate his front-four to give the next-in-line attackers the chance from the get-go, he did bring in Bassett along with another pair of younger, less-used players – including Dutch-American central defender Philippe Sandler – in a triple-switch after a scoreless first half.

photo: Feyenoord Rotterdam

Feyenoord’s winning goal came in the 71st minute thanks to a careless lapse by defender Bas Kuipers, who lost possession under pressure from Alireza Jahanbakhsh deep in his own area. The ball rolled into the path of Brian Linssen, who calmly took a couple of touches before placing his shot to the lower right corner for the winner.

While not playing ant role in the winning score, Bassett acquitted himself in fine fashion during his half of action, completing 14 of 17 passes, but more importantly linked up well with Jahanbakhsh, setting up two chances for the Iranian attacker in the 64th and 76th minutes.

With the victory, Feyenoord are now mathematically assured of a spot in the Europa League play-off round in August. With no pressure whatsoever on their final game on Sunday at home against Twente, Bassett’s first start might be in order this weekend as they try to avoid any injury disasters prior to their Europa Conference League final four days later against AS Roma.

Notes

Richard Ledezma saw some action for PSV Eindhoven as a garbage-time substitute in their 3-2 win over Nijmegen. With Ajax wrapping up the league championship with their win over Heerenveen, the American and his teammates are assured of finishing runners up in the league regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s visit to Zwolle, possibly paving the way for a longer appearance by Ledezma in their finale.

By David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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