Djordje Mihailovic made the most of his lengthy substitute appearance against Fortuna Sittard for an injured teammate, while Ricardo Pepi racked up a lucky assist, albeit in vain in Groningen’s loss at Heerenveen.
AZ Alkmaar 3 – 1 Fortuna Sittard
Djordje Mihailovic made a strong case for a regular spot on the field for AZ, putting in a strong performance in nearly an hour of play as an injury substitute in Sunday’s home win over Fortuna Sittard.
The hosts were ahead after just more than three minutes, when Dani de Wit was positioned perfectly in the six-yard box to head in Jens Odegaard’s cross from the right, but Burak Yilmaz equalized from the spot in the 11th minute after Zinho Vanheusden bowled over Remy Vita in the area while defending a cross.
AZ’s lead was restored in the 24th minute when Ximo Navarro clumsily kocked Odegaard’s cross from the right into his own net, seemingly putting AZ in the driver’s seat. However, they were dealt a blow ten minutes later when de Wit was forced out with an injury with the American new arrival taking his place on the field.
In his 56 minutes of play, Mihailovic had a total of 35 touches, completed 81% of his 21 passing attempts, forced one save with his lone shot, and created an additional three chances. He was also impressive in helping AZ maintain control, winning all six of his tackles, making seven recoveries and winning seven of nine duels.
AZ were able to pad their lead in the 56th minute, after Yukinari Sugawara threaded the needle with a low cross from the right that Evangelos Pavlidis redirected with a low shot past the reach of the Fortuna keeper.
With the win, AZ are in second place, two points behind leaders Feyenoord. They face Go Ahead Eagles in midweek action on Wednesday.
SC Heerenveen 3 – 1 FC Groningen
Ricardo Pepi notched a rather fortunate assist in his 90 minutes of play on Sunday afternoon, however that one goal was all Groningen could manage in their loss at Heerenveen.
The Texan started up front as usual for the visitors, and had a decent game. He forced one save with his two shots, created a pair of chances, completed 74% of his 27 passes, completed one of his three dribble attempts, was caught twice offside, win seven of 17 duels, and drew one foul.
Less than five minutes after the opening whistle, Heerenveen keeper Andries Noppert launched the ball downfield out of his own area, where it amazingly got past the entire Groningen back line and onto the foot of Amin Sarr. The Swedish youth international managed to beat the keeper, leaving an open net for his uncontested shot and the lead for the hosts.
Five minutes before the half, Pepi’s scuffed shot from the edge of the six-yard box took a lucky bounce towards Thom Haye, who adeptly corralled the the ball into goal near the left post for the equalizer.
To their credit, Groningen kept it close until close to the end, but a late collapse doomed them to the loss.
With nine minutes left, Pelle van Amersfoort was left free to head in Thom Haye’s corner for the lead, then moments later, Sarr netted his second, finishing a lightening-fast counter by striking Mats Köhlert’s cross into the goal with his first touch to complete the 3-1 victory.
Groningen are in 16th place following the weekend, and will try to climb out of the relegation places on Thursday when they welcome last-place Cambuur Leeuwarden.
Twente Enschede 2 – 0 FC Utrecht
Taylor Booth went the distance for Utrecht, as the team fell flat in their shut-out road loss at Twente.
Apart from picking up his third yellow card of the season, the Utah-born attacker managed one shot, created one futher chance, was accurate on all four of his long-ball attempts, and took three of the team’s corners.
Václav Cerny put Twente ahead at the stroke of half when he broke behind the sleeping defense and put his low shot past Vasilios Barkas, then Virgil Misidjan sealed the three points in the 64th minute with a perfectly-targeted shot from the left of the area just inside the far post.
Utrecht are eighth following the result, and will try to recover on Wednesday when Excelsior come for a visit.
NEC Nijmegen 3 – 1 FC Emmen
Philippe Sandler returned from his slight injury in the previous game, putting in another solid performance in Nijmegen’s central defense in their resounding win over Emmen.
Landry Dima did the early damage for the hosts, coolly striking in his first from the spot in the 12th minute, then breaking free to powerfully strike home from the right side of the area in the 35th, although the celebration was delayed until after a VAR review confirmed he was still onside when Elayis Tavsan hit his brilliant through-ball.
Richairo Zivkovic pulled one back for the visitors just before the break, slipping away from Sandler to find space to poke his shot over the line, but Ibrahim Cissoko’s strike from the left side restored what would be the final 3-1 lead.
Nijmegen are ninth following the victory, and visit leaders Feyenoord on Wednesday.
Kik Pierie is injured and missed Excelsior Rotterdam’s 2-0 home win over FC Volendam in Eredivisie action on Friday night.
Richard Ledezma watched from PSV Eindhoven’s bench on Saturday as they narrowly beat visiting Vitesse Arnhem by a 1-0 margin on Saturday. He also was an unused sub three days later for PSV’s 1-0 loss at Emmen.
Dante Sealy played the final nine minutes of Jong PSV’s 1-0 road loss at FC Den Bosch in Eerste Divisie action on Friday. He was also an unused substitute on Monday for their 2-1 home loss to VVV-Venlo.
Joshua Pynadath was not in uniform on Monday night when Jong AZ drew 1-1 at home against Helmond Sport.