Bjorn again, again, again and much ADO

NEC Nijmegen might only be sitting in a mid table Eredivisie position right now, but their pin-up striker Björn Vleminckx  is emerging as something of a cult hero. Ajax lost at home to ADO too.  With a review of the latest games from Holland's top flight, here's John Dobson.

Willem II 1-4 VVV Venlo

Twente 2-1 Excelsior

Groningen 2-1 NAC

Heerenveen 3-2 Heracles

De Graafschap 1-4 NEC

Ajax 0-1 ADO

Utrecht 1-2 PSV

Vitesse 1-1 AZ

Feyenoord 1-1 Roda JC

What Feyenoord could really do with now is a bit of peace and quiet in order to allow them a chance to rebuild without the spotlight on them. Sadly, for them at least, that just isn’t going to happen despite the best efforts of arch-rivals Ajax. Mario Been shuffled his pack for the game against Roda and altered the shape to more of a 4-2-3-1 and it looked far better from the off. They had by far the better chances of the first quarter of the game, but the confidence is still in shreds and none could be taken, although Premyslaw Tyton pulled off one outstanding save to deny Georgino Wijnaldum. Inevitably, Roda went up the other end with their first attack of the game worthy of note and went in front, Anouar Hadouir crossing deep for Mads Junker to head home. Tyton again saved well from Wijnaldum and Luc Castaignos did put the ball in the back of the net in first half stoppages, but only after coming back from an offside position. Roda couldn’t find the crucial second goal in their bright spell during the second half and were again grateful to Tyton for keeping them in it, but he couldn’t do it all himself and a late shot from Castaignos was parried back to him and he knocked it in to equalise.

Even Ajax losing at home to ADO couldn’t knock Feyenoord off the back pages. “We are not good in the head” said Luis Suarez after the game. They weren’t especially good on the field either despite a bright start, which saw Mounir El Hamdaoui and Suarez firing wide. Wesley Verhoek gave them a warning with a shot that Maarten Stekelenburg did well to claw away, but he was left grasping at thin air in the last minute of the first half as he curled one past the Dutch number one and inside the back post.

That leaves Ajax 4 off the lead as the top two both won, Twente after coming from behind against Excelsior and PSV coming off better in a bad-tempered game in Utrecht. Twente were behind in the second minute as Ryan Koolwijk’s free-kick was flicked past a characteristically hesitant Nikolay Mihaylov by Leendert van Steensel. This sort of thing happened a lot last season, Twente found a way to win, and they seem to have carried that on under the new regime. Patience is the key and Twente are a much better side than Excelsior – it just sometimes takes a while to prove. Shots rained in and something had to give eventually. And so it did in the 26th minute when Nacer Chadli – in a rich vein of form – held the ball up with his back to goal and hit one on the spin to level it up. Twente continued to dominate, but were grateful to Mihaylov for saving brilliantly with his legs as a shot took a hefty deflection off Peter Wisgerhof. The winner had to come and did quarter of an hour from time, Denny Landzaat crossing for Marc Janko to slide in at the near post. PSV were in front in Utrecht after 25 minutes, Ola Toivonen’s header parried to the feet of Balazs Dzsudzsak who stroked the ball home. Jonathan Reis was sent off shortly afterwards for a challenge on Alje Schut, but Utrecht couldn’t make the most of it and went two down after Jacob Lensky brought down Toivonen in the box, seeing red and giving away a penalty which Dzsudzsak converted. Franck Demouge got one back late on, an improvised overhead volley, but it was too little and too late for Ton du Chatinier’s side.

Down at the bottom, Willem II’s run of one draw on the bounce came to a shuddering halt after a battering at home to VVV Venlo, which sees the visitors move seven points ahead of the Tilburgers. Willem II started as they meant to go on, Arjan Swinkels sent off for handling the ball after 23 minutes. Ruud Boymans put VVV ahead from the penalty spot and doubled the lead just after the break, a goalkeeping error leaving him with a tap-in. Balazs Toth rolled one in from the edge of the area with a casual swagger moments later and the fourth followed quarter of an hour from time, but only after a short suspension of play as the referee copped some terrible abuse from the stands. Diogo Viana blazed in a long-range effort for 4-0 before some consolation for the home support when Maceo Rigters poked home a rebound late on. NEC also hit four, Bjorn Vleminckx grabbing his second hat-trick of the season to go top of the goal charts alongside El Hamdaoui. De Graafschap started brightest and should have gone ahead early on when NEC keeper Jasper Cillessen went AWOL and Steve de Ridder put the ball wide of an open goal. They paid for that miss as Vlemickx found Nathaniel Will in an ocean of space on the right and he chipped Boy Waterman to open the scoring. Vleminckx’s first came shortly after the break after exchanging passes on the edge of the box and finishing coolly, but De Graafschap got back into it through a lovely solo effort from Muslu Nalbantoglu moments later. Vleminckx isn’t a man to be kept out of the spotlight for long though and the rest of the game was all about him. John Goossens shot from a tight angle after the Swede teed him up, but Waterman could only parry it onto Velminckx’s head as he restored the two-goal advantage and Goossens won a penalty shortly after which Vleminckx took only for Waterman to turn it onto the post. The burly Swede wouldn’t be denied though and he cut inside from the left to hit a rocket into the top corner on the turn.

It was a busy day for Groningen skipper Andreas Granqvist who managed to score an own goal and two penalties as his side beat NAC who were ahead inside three minutes, Granqvist nodding a corner in at the near post. He made amends from the spot quarter of an hour later after Gabor Horvath fouled Tim Matavz and he ended up in credit just before the break, showing real balls to go the same way after Milano Koenders had handled. More penalties and own goals in Heerenveen as well where the home side prevailed over struggling Heracles. Michel Breuer put the home side ahead midway through the first half, heading in as Heracles failed to defend a free-kick, and they were two up by half time as Roy Beerens added a penalty following a foul on Oussama Aissadi by Heracles keeper Remko Pasveer. A penalty the other way in the 70th minute got the Almelo side back into it, Samuel Armenteros brought down and Willy Overtoom doing the duties from 12 yards. It was all square a few minutes later, as Everton reacted quickest after his initial header was blocked. And it looked like finishing two apiece until, three minutes into stoppage time, Luciano Narsingh crossed and Birger Maertens got it caught under his feet and managed to put it into his own net. Vitesse needed a last-minute rescue as well as they drew with AZ in the Gelredome. Graziano Pelle – again off the bench in place of an increasingly hapless Jonathas – put the Alkmaarders ahead just after the break, latching onto a long through ball and finishing with his first touch. They failed to deal with a hopeful ball in as the clock ticked onto 90 minutes and Ismail Aissati was on hand to lash it into the top corner.

It’s PSV’s turn to take on Excelsior next week while Twente are away to NAC. Ajax are also away, in Alkmaar to take on AZ and Groningen – who the top three haven’t shaken off – are in Almelo to face Heracles. There’s a big battle at the bottom between Vitesse and VVV Venlo while Willem II are at home on Friday night to struggling De Graafschap. It may be a bit early to talk about last chances, but with just two points on the board as the halfway mark moves into view, it won’t be long unless the Tilburgers can start winning soon. All eyes will once again be on Feyenoord as they welcome Heerenveen to De Kuip.

Willem II v De Graafschap

PSV v Excelsior

Roda JC v Utrecht

NAC v Twente


VVV Venlo v Vitesse

AZ v Ajax

Heracles v Groningen

Feyenoord v Heerenveen

You can follow John on Twitter @Euroballs