PSV hard down in Seville, where Ajax flop Ocampos is the sudden hero
PSV needs a small miracle to reach the eighth finals in the Europa League. In the outward match of the intermediate round, Sevilla handled its chances much more carefully than the Eindhoven players: 3-0.
There were a lot of familiar names on the field with the Spaniards. But the main role was claimed by a player from whom nobody in the Netherlands was expecting almost Dennis Bergkamp-like scenes.
His name: Lucas Ocampos. Left Ajax through the back door a month ago, after only 114 playing minutes as a mercenary. An Argentine flop who had cost the Amsterdammers millions.
Wearing jersey number 55, Ocampos was allowed to fill in after halftime at Sevilla, which is just a bit clear of the relegation zone in the league and in this European interlude gave some other guys a chance to prove themselves.
Ocampos deals final blow
Cold in the field, Ocampos plucked a high cross out of the air and, after that graceful approach, popped it via the inside of the post (2-0). And five minutes later his ball control was again perfect, this time with a chop into the run of Nemanja Gudelj (3-0).
With that it was immediately finished in Sevilla, where Luuk de Jong received a standing ovation at his substitution half an hour before time. Indeed, three seasons ago he was Sevilla’s European hero, with two goals in the final won against Inter.
And even now as a PSV player, he did the club a service, by heralding the opening goal with a clumsy ball loss. After a first half in which PSV seemed to have everything under control, things suddenly went wrong in extra time. Jesús Navas, at 37, steamed up the right flank and found Youssef En-Nesyri, who tapped the ball in.
En-Nesyri was recently one of Morocco’s World Cup favorites. As was goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who made a good save on Ismael Saibari’s dangerous effort. Xavi Simons had also been threatening, but curled the ball over from the left flank.
Gudelj caused another precarious moment, almost shooting into his own goal with a rock-hard return ball from long range.
It was all just not there for PSV. And in European matches against renowned opponents, the reckoning at the end is hard. Coach Ruud van Nistelrooij’s team could have done with more, as Joey Veerman hit the post just before the end.
Watch Ruud van Nistelrooij’s reaction here:
Van Nistelrooij sees effective Sevilla: ‘It’s never finished, hugely difficult though’
Next week, the Ocampos who never saw the premier league comes to the Netherlands one more time, for the return in Eindhoven.
“It’s never finished,” Van Nistelrooij remained combative, clinging to the chances he had seen for his team despite the settled figures on the scoreboard. “It’s certainly not finished. It is enormously difficult, though.”