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Dutch Recap: Pepi and Groningen Suffer Another Heavy Defeat

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Taylor Booth’s assist was not enough to keep Utrecht from falling against a far superior Ajax side, Kik Pierie’s first goal for Excelsior ensured that they are free from any relegation danger, while Ricardo Pepi and Groningen allowed six goals for the third time this season.

Ajax 3 – 1 FC Utrecht

A loss by Taylor Booth and his Utrecht teammates at Ajax on Sunday did little to impact their overall fate this season, however the American was able to pad his stats with an assist on his team’s lone score.

Booth played 72 minutes on the left side of the attack, however was largely neutralized amidst Ajax’s stifling 68% possession. He managed just 16 touches, completed one of his four passing attempts, took one shot, drew one foul and won half of his four duels.

Still, he made his limited participation count, with two accurate crosses in three attempts, and the assist on Utrecht’s only score of the game.

Steven Bergwijn got the scoring underway for Ajax in the 20th minute, controlling Owen Wijndal’s sharp cross from the left flank, and taking a couple touches before targeting the lower left corner for the 1-0 lead.

Four minutes after the break, Booth received a long pass on the left side and charged up the flank before lofting a cross towards Anastasios Douvikas in the center of the area. The Greek international controlled the ball with his chest, managed to make his turn under pressure of three defenders, and his an off-balance shot that flew into the left side for the equalizer.

However, the rest of the game would belong to Ajax, with Brian Brobbey striking from close range in the 69th amidst confusion in the defense, and Davy Klaassen adding their third deep in injury time to secure the 3-1 win.

The loss mathematically ensures that Utrecht will finish in seventh place no matter what happens in their final league game against 16th-place Emmen on Sunday. They will then play two semifinal games against Sparta Rotterdam in the post-season playoff for a spot in the Europa Conference League.

Excelsior 3 – 0 Fortuna Sittard

Kik Pierie’s first goal for Excelsior Rotterdam came at the perfect time, as it was the game-winner against Fortuna Sittard that mathematically ensured they will once again compete next season in the Eredivisie.

All of the action was saved for the final half-hour, but Excelsior unloaded on their guests to ensure the season-saving win.

Playing in an advanced role, Pierie scored the eventual winner just before the 59-minute mark, rising high at the far post to head in a cross from Marouan Azarkan.

Couhaib Driouech made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute, rushing into the box and getting his head on a fine cross from Kenzo Goudmijn to add the insurance goal.

The two then switched roles with five minutes left, this time Driouech playing provider by sliding a short pass inside the box for Goudmijn to slam home for the final 3-0 scoreline.

The result means that Excelsior will finish no worse than 15th place, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s visit to 14th-place Volendam.

Vitesse 6 – 0 FC Groningen

Ricardo Pepi and Groningen suffered their joint-worst defeat of an already difficult season, allowing Vitesse six goals on the way to a heavy defeat.

Pepi had an unsurprisingly subdued performance for his overwhelmed team, playing the full 90 minutes atop the attack, only managing one shot, which did force a save, throughout the game.

Groningen had little fight left in them after a long season and recent demoralizing fan interruptions, which was evident when Million Manhoef already opened the scoring for Vitesse after just four minutes from six yards out, after taking advantage of lax defending.

To their credit, Groningen did keep matters tight for the rest of the first half, until their keeper, Peter Leeuwenburgh, was shown a straight red for a clumsy lunge against Manhoef well outside the area, as he was the final defensive player in front of goal.

This effectively opened the flood gates for Vitesse, and they added five goals before the final whistle.

Manhoef set up Melle Meulensteen for a blast from outside the area in the third minute of added time, then he added his second goal in the 56th with a low roller just inside the left corner.

Gabriel Vidovic made it 4-0 to the hosts in the 71st minute with a low shot across goal, then Manhoef completed his hat-trick three minutes later, breaking away on the right and threading the needle for a shot to the upper right corner.

Sondre Tronstad then completed the rout with six minutes remaining, one-timing his elegant shot from 20 yard out.

The result has no bearing whatsoever on Groningen’s fate, who were already relegated weeks before game kicked off. This is their second 6-0 loss this season, the first coming against PSV in February, and the third time they have allowed six in a game, including their 6-1 defeat to Ajax in August.

They will mercifully end their season on Sunday at home against Sparta in an empty stadium after the team and league officials agreed to play the remainder of their games behind closed doors.


Philippe Sandler started in the central defense for NEC Nijmegen on Saturday and played 75 minutes as they were routed by visiting AZ Alkmaar by a 3-0 score. Djordje Mihailovic played the final six minutes for AZ in the winning effort. NEC close the season at Fortuna Sittard on Sunday, while AZ host second-place PSV Eindhoven, in a game that could have major implications on European qualification for both teams.

Gedion Zelalem and FC Den Bosch closed their Eerste Divisie season with a 3-0 loss at De Graafaschap on Friday night. Despite finishing the season as the second-bottom team in the division, they are spared relegation as there is no promotion or relegation between the Dutch second and third tiers through this season.

Anthony Fontana ended his first season with Zwolle on Friday by coming on as a 71st minute substitute in their road win over Helmond Sport. The team finishes second in the division, and will compete in the Eredivisie in the coming 2023-24 season.

Joshua Pynadath was not in uniform for Jong AZ’s season-closing 2-0 home loss to ADO Den Haag on Friday.

Dante Sealy played what might has been his final game for Jong PSV on Friday, starting and going 73 minutes on the right side in their 1-1 home draw against FC Eindhoven. The attacker’s loan with PSV ends this summer, with a return to FC Dallas the most likely outcome.

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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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