European miracle PSV fails to materialize despite late win over Sevilla
For PSV, the intermediate round of the Europa League has turned out to be the final stage. Sevilla proved too strong over two duels and qualified for the eighth finals. At the Philips Stadium, the encounter ended 2-0 through late goals by Luuk de Jong and Fábio Silva.
‘Remontada,’ a Spanish word for a comeback of brilliance, was once again invoked this week. Not surprisingly, given the 3-0 defeat in Sevilla, which made PSV’s European adventure seem like a nightmare.
Coach Ruud van Nistelrooij, recovered from illness, logically kept his spirits up ahead of the return game, but he too realized all too well that PSV would need a miracle Thursday night to reach the last sixteen.
And although PSV played “the best first half of the season” according to him in Spain, it yielded bitterly little below the line. Moreover, no Dutch club managed to make up a three goal deficit.
However good the intentions at the Philips Stadium were on the part of the home side, the much-desired quick first goal did not materialize. The crowd immediately scanned the well-known “all or nothing,” but there was hardly any excitement inside the lines.
In the early stages, Luuk de Jong could not get his head right against a Johan Bakayoko cross. That’s where things stopped as far as PSV was concerned. Because the sluggish Sevilla also played little, the fans in attendance saw a sluggish first half.
Van Nistelrooij, who favored André Ramalho and Phillipp Mwene at the back over Armando Obispo and Jordan Teze, had to come up with a ruse midway through. He sent the same eleven into the field, despite the fact that PSV did not manage to create a real chance before halftime.
The Andalusians did shortly after the start of the second half. From a Bryan Gil cross ball, striker Youssef En-Nesyri pounced on alert goalkeeper Walter Benítez. On the opposite side, De Jong headed wide from a cross from Mwene via the back of Tanguy Nianzou’s head.
After more than an hour, Van Nistelrooij made his first substitutions. Newcomers Fábio Silva and Mauro Júnior replaced Patrick van Aanholt and Érick Gutiérrez. The not yet fully match fit Ibrahim Sangaré remained on the bench.
PSV, however, could not make a fist until the closing stages against Sevilla, who in 2006 captured the then UEFA Cup in Eindhoven at the expense of Middlesbrough. Now Brabant was once again in favor of Spain’s current number 12.
Bang on the crossbar
Sevilla could have even scored, but Ivan Rakitic first popped the ball on the crossbar and shortly thereafter saw a effort go wide. At the other end, Marko Dmitrovic, the replacement for Yassine Bounou, who had dropped out at the last minute, parried a Bakayoko effort.
With just under fifteen minutes on the clock, the 1-0 came after all, after the industrious De Jong fumbled the ball through Dmitrovic’s legs.
It gave courage and the 2-0 from the same De Jong set the Philips Stadium on fire. However, because the attacker Silva was offside, the goal was disallowed.
Sevilla thus escaped with a scare and struggled to hold on in the remainder of the match, even though deep into injury time they still made it 2-0 from Silva. Referee Daniele Orsato gave Mauro Júnior a red card for protesting after the final whistle.
Thus came a sour end to PSV’s European adventure, which, after elimination in the Champions League playoffs against Rangers FC, continued in the Europa League, culminating in a home win over Arsenal.
What remains for the eliminated PSV in the coming months is mainly the battle for the national title, with Sunday an important home match against FC Twente immediately. The current number four in the Eredivisie absolutely cannot afford to lose points again, as they did against FC Utrecht.
In addition, PSV is in the quarter-finals of the KNVB Cup, in which ADO Den Haag is the opponent in early March.
So for Van Nistelrooij, there is still plenty to gain in his first season as head coach, although given the vicissitudes of his team, it is balancing on a tightrope.
The winter transfers of rested departing Cody Gakpo (Liverpool) and Noni Madueke (Chelsea) may have brought in tens of millions of euros, but gave the sporting ambitions a dent.
The European elimination is the first concrete evidence of this.