Ricardo Pepi’s goal was the lone bright spot for Groningen in their home loss to AZ, while Kik Pierie and Jong Ajax were forced to settle for a draw despite their oppressively dominant performance.
FC Groningen 1 – 4 AZ Alkmaar
Ricardo Pepi continued his scoring run for FC Groningen, netting in a second straight game, however it was a Pyrrhic victory as the team was forced to endure a heavy loss at home against new league leaders AZ Alkmaar.
Despite the three-goal loss for the team, Pepi had an individually solid game over 81 minutes, completing 18 of his 21 passing amidst his 29 touches, creating one chance in addition to his 42nd minute goal, winning half of his six duels, and one of two dribble attempts.
Dani de Wit put A ahead before three minutes had passed. Groningen keeper Michael Verrips turned the ball over with a poor pass out of his own area. While Jesper Karlsson’s initial shot was blocked, de Wit slid in to put the ball away for the 1-0 lead.
Karlson then added a second just before the 19-minute mark, after being left standing all alone ten yards out, in perfect position to put away Tijani Reijnders’ cross with a sweeping shot on the turn.
The game momentarily looked to be shifting towards Groningen’s favor as the first half entered its final phase; first when de Wit was forced out after 38 minutes with injury, then Pepi cut into the lead in the 42nd minute, with a fine example of opportunistic resilience.
Pepi initially split AZ’s central defenders to pull down a long pass from Neraysho Kasanwirjo deep in enemy territory. AZ defender Sam Beukema recovered enough to catch the American in a tangle of legs and momentarily give the impression of coming out ahead.
However, Pepi miraculously managed to whip one leg around immediately after he hit the ground, and strike the shot from seven yards out, high to the center of goal to bring Groningen back to within 2-1.
However, the visitors twisted the knife in the second half to secure the win, with Milos Kerkez running onto a through ball from Reijnders and beating Verrips for the 3-1 two minutes past the hour, then Mayckel Lahdo adding a fourth in the 85th minute in almost identical fashion, benefitting from a fine pass by Peer Koopmeiners.
The loss drops Groningen down to 12th place, where they are still a full three points clear of the relegation places. They stay at home for their next game, as they will host RKC Waalwijk on Friday evening.
PEC Zwolle 1 – 1 Jong Ajax
Kik Pierie had a monster of a game for Jong AZ in Eerste Divisie action, however the strikingly dominant performance by the visitors was for nought, as they were forced to settle for a draw.
Following the 12th-minute red card by Zwolle’s keeper Jasper Schendelaar, Jong Ajax had the game in control, holding 80% of possession, although they did somehow allow their hosts a surprising 17 shots in their limited possession.
Pierie was at the center of the action more than any other player, putting in yet another strong performance to dominate the game from his role in the center of defense.
The Dutch-American defender had a remarkable 195 total ball contacts, completed 91% of his 181 pass attempts, attempted two shots, set up one chance, hit seven accurate long balls in 13 attempts, won five of seven duels, two of three tackles, with his only negative point being a 26th-minute yellow card.
With the visitors unable to capitalize on their man-advantage and overall dominance, the hosts took their opening to jump to a shocking lead in the 62nd minute with Haris Medunjanin striking the 1-0 from outside of the area.
Pierie fired a rocket from distance just past the 76-minute mark that could have pulled the visitors even had backup keeper Mike Hauptmeijer not made a fingertip deflection, but Kristian Hlynsson earned the draw four minutes later, angling his 20-yard looping shot to the upper right corner.
Pierie and his teammates are in 11th place following the result, and will be back in action on Friday night with a visit from Helmond Sport.
ADO Den Haag 1 – 3 Jong PSV
Dante Sealy started and played just under an hour for Jong PSV on Friday night on the right side of their attack in the team’s 3-1 road win over ADO Den Haag.
Despite the visitors already holding a 3-0 lead at the half, the American was minimally involved in their attack, with only 21 total touches over his 58 minutes on the field, and no shots nor chances created.
Still, the visitors easily sealed the win before the halftime break.
Mohamed Nassoh gave the the lead in the 23rd minute with a powerful strike from 23 yards straight out. Jensen Seelt then made it 2-0 in the 42nd with a chip from the right side, before completing his brace four minutes later with a header from near the right post.
Tyrese Asante did pull one back for the host at the 49-minute mark with a low header off of a Max de Waal corner at the far post, but the visitors held on for the win without any difficulty.
Jong PSV are now 12th in the Eerste Divisie, and next host Telstar on Friday.
Richard Ledezma played the final eight minutes of regulation for PSV Eindhoven in their 3-0 road loss at Cambuur Leeuwarden. Ledezma had eight touches during his time on the field, completed seven of eight passes, however did not contribute any shots or set up any chances in the heavy loss. PSV are third place with the result, and next visit Zürich in the Europa League on Thursday.
Cole Bassett played the final nine minutes of regulation for Fortuna Sittard on Sunday in their 2-0 home win over Volendam. The American only had four touches while on the field and completed all four of his passing attempts. Fortuna’s second straight win brings them to 14th place, clear of the relegation spots.
Taylor Booth wasn’t in uniform for Utrecht on Sunday as they went on the road to take a 1-0 victory at Excelsior Rotterdam.
Joshua Pynadath was on Jong AZ’s bench but was not called into action during their 2-0 road loss at De Graafschap Doetinchem on Friday night.