Ricardo Pepi
image: ANP / Imago

Dutch Recap: Pepi Scores, Fontana Starts

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Ricardo Pepi finally saw one of his goals help Groningen earn points, although a draw did little to stop the team’s spiral towards relegation, while Anthony Fontana finally earned a start for promoted Zwolle, albeit in a losing performance.

Go Ahead Eagles 1 – 1 FC Groningen

Ricardo Pepi’s 12th goal of the season did give Groningen hope of keeping their minuscule chances at Eredivisie survival on life support for a few minutes, however a predictable capitulation confirmed their drop with three games to spare.

Aside from making his impressive 15th goal contribution in just 26 games, Pepi had 29 ball contacts over his 90 minutes of play, completed ten out of 14 passing attempts, took a pair of shots, drew one foul, was successful on his only attempted dribble, and won five of 16 duels.

He gave Groningen and early lead shortly past the five-minute mark, lurking on the top edge of the six-yard box, and perfectly timing his sprint behind the defense to tap in a cross from Oliver Antman.

However, the lead wouldn’t even last through the half-hour mark. Bas Kuipers streaked into the left side of the area before laying the ball back to Willum Willumsson at the penalty spot, who redirected the ball past Groningen keeper Peter Leeuwenburgh with the inside of his right foot.

Willumsson nearly put the hosts ahead four minutes later when he was isolated one-on-one with Leeuwenburgh, however the keeper made the grab to keep the score even.

Go Ahead Eagles remained the aggressors for much of the second half, regularly forcing Leeuwenburgh and the Groningen defense into action, although in the end, the draw was a fair result, even if more damaging to Pepi and his teammates.

With a ten-point gap to safety and only nine points left to play for, Groningen have their spot in the Eerste Divisie confirmed for next season. Pepi not be joining them, although he could pad his goalscoring total in the final weeks beginning with a home matchup against Ajax on Sunday.

Cambuur Leeuwarden 0 – 3 FC Utrecht

Taylor Booth earned the start for FC Utrecht on Saturday, picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in their important shut-out win over hosts Cambuur Leeuwarden.

In his 75 minutes of play, the American took just one shot, completed 16 of 21 passing attempts, drew three fouls, won eight of 18 duels, fired no accurate crosses or long balls in six attempts, and was successful on two of his six attempted dribbles.

Following a troublesome injury to important center forward Bas Dost, pair of towering, first-half headers by Sander van de Streek and Anastasios Douvikas gave them the unassailable lead before the half.

Booth did himself a major disservice in first-half injury-time, picking up his fifth yellow card of the season for a foul on Sai van Wermeskerken, which will lead to a one-game suspension.

Still, Douvikas removed any lingering doubt that the game would belong to the visitors giving Utrecht the final 3-0 win from the spot in the 64th minute, after Cambuur keeper Robbin Ruiter bowled over van de Streek in the area while trying to recover from a poor touch.

The result keeps Utrecht six points ahead of eighth-place RKC Waalwijk in the race for the final spot for the post-season playoff for Europa Conference League qualification. Saturday’s home game against Waalwijk could see their spot confirmed, however Booth will be a spectator while he serves his suspension.

NEC Nijmegen 2 – 3 SC Heerenveen

Philippe Sandler and the NEC Nijmegen back line had an afternoon they would prefer to forget, giving up two late goals cheaply to fall at home against SC Heerenveen on Saturday.

Sandler played the full game in central defense, completing 87% of his 53 passing attempts, while hitting three of nine accurate long balls, making four clearances, recovering the ball five times and winning four of five duels.

While Thom Hay put Heerenveen ahead in the 27th minute with a 25-yard free kick that grazed the underside of the crossbar, Magnus Mattsson equalized ten minutes later, lunging in to put a setup from Ivan Marquez over the line following a corner.

Landry Dimata then put the hosts ahead just past the hour mark, beating the Heerenveen keeper to a cross by Souffian Elkarouani from the left to the near post and deflecting the ball into the lower left corner.

With just over eight minutes left, Heerenveen’s Ousame Sahraoui did all the hard work to weave inwards at the endline to the left of goal, with his perfect, short cross to the foot of Sydney van Hooijdonk leaving the 23 year-old center forward the easiest of jobs to direct the ball over the line for the equalizer.

Then, with three minutes left in regulation, Nijmegen keeper Jasper Cillessen practically gifted the three points to their visitors, completely misjudging the trajectory of a shot from Antoine Colassin towards the left upright, not even attempting to make what would have been the simplest of saves as it sailed in to complete the 3-2 win.

The result mathematically knocks Nijmegen out of contention for European qualification, meaning that Friday’s visit to Twente is the first of three dead rubber games before the summer break.

Jong PSV 3 – 1 PEC Zwolle

Anthony Fontana made his first start since crossing the pond more than a year ago, however already-promoted Zwolle was unable to overcome Jong PSV on Monday night in Eerste Divisie action.

The former Philadelphia Union player played 68 minutes in Zwolle’s central midfield in a more holding role, completing 86% of his 22 passes, connecting on both of his long-ball attempts, winning one of two tackles, making one clearance, winning three of nine duels, and committing a pair of fouls.

Dante Sealy also earned a rare start for Jong PSV, contributing one shot and drawing a pair of fouls over 86 minutes on the left wing.

Jong PSV scored a pair of goals in the first half, but were still forced to go into the half on even terms; a fine, angled shot from Mathijs Tielemans in the 36th minute was canceled out eight minutes later when defender Jensen Seelt headed a long cross from Bart van Hintum into his own net.

Livano Comenencia put the hosts ahead five minutes after the restart, with a bit of misdirection on his give-and-go with Jason van Duiven creating the space for an uncontested eight-yard shot from the right.

Fontana’s evening ended in the 68th minute when he was pulled as a part of a quadruple switch, and Sealy also had an early rest, leaving with four minutes left in favor of Matteo Dams.

Two minutes into injury time, Simon Colyn added the exclamation point for the hosts, making a nice turn after receiving the ball in front of goal to beat the keeper to the lower right corner for the final 3-1 score.

For Zwolle, the loss has no impact on their entry into the Eredivisie next season, although they do fall behind Heracles in the race for the league title. They will hope to right the ship on Friday night when they host 15th-place Roda JC Kerkrade.

Sealy and Jong PSV end up in 14th following the weekend’s action, and next visit second-bottom TOP Oss on Friday.


Djordje Mihailovic played the final 12 minutes of AZ’s scoreless road draw at Ajax. The result keeps AZ within three points of the automatic qualification spot for next season’s Europa Conference League. They still are aiming for the trophy in this year’s edition of that same competition, and will visit West Ham in the semifinal first leg on Thursday. Three days later they host relegation-threatened Emmen in league play.

Kik Pierie played 77 minutes in the defense for Excelsior on Sunday, as a pair of goals from Mexican forward Santiago Gimenez saw Feyenoord come away as 2-0 victors in the Rotterdam derby. Excelsior occupy the relegation playoff spot, and will need to take a result from ninth-place Heerenveen on Saturday to help their case.

Joshua Pynadath didn’t suit up for Jong AZ on Monday night for their 1-1 home draw against TOP Oss in Eerste Divisie action.

Gedion Zelalem is still out for FC Den Bosch and missed their scoreless draw on the road against Jong FC Utrecht on Monday.


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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