Sparta lets victory over Twente slip out of hands in injury time
Watch the summary of Sparta Rotterdam – FC Twente
At Het Kasteel they saw themselves already pulling through Europe, as for a long time Thursday night Sparta was ahead in the first of two duels with FC Twente for the last European ticket. Deep into injury time things still went wrong, when Ramiz Zerrouki headed in the equalizer.
Next Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m.) is the decisive game in Enschede.
FC Twente rolled up Heerenveen in Enschede just last Sunday (4-0), having also won in Friesland a few days before. Often with swift combination play, sometimes with a beautiful goal, as it had shown more often in recent weeks. But at Het Kasteel, things did not run so smoothly in Rotterdam.
There were certainly chances for the Rotterdammers before halftime, through striker Manfred Ugalde or the Joshua Brenet-Vaclav Cerny tandem. The Dutch back found the quick Czech winger a few times with a subtle pass, but goalkeeper Nick Olij, the post or Sparta captain Bart Vriends were always in the way.
Sparta, still fighting relegation last season, did not get further than a shot by Koki Saito that whizzed past. Or a lackluster half-volley from Arno Verschueren. With half-time approaching, Twente stepped up a gear, but did not create any major chances. In fact, the game had already become very tame, perhaps even a little boring, in the minutes before.
But seconds after halftime, everything turned around. When Saito very lightly felt Cerny’s knee and did go down very eagerly, referee Jeroen Manschot immediately pointed to the spot. No doubt, he ruled, and VAR also kept quiet. Vito van Crooij remained ice-cool from the spot, face to face with Lars Unnerstall: 1-0.
A Twente siege of Het Kasteel was imminent. The tempo went up and they clunked fiercer into the duels, which earned Michal Sadilek yellow and a suspension for the return, but really big chances did not result from the offensive.
Watch the reactions of trainers Ron Jans and Maurice Steijn here:
For a long time it remained only distance shots by Sadilek and Cerny, after which Sparta also realized: here is something more to be gained than a 1-0 win. The Spartans left their positions and went on the attack. With chances as a result, such as a header that flew just wide and a delicate situation after a weak ball back to Unnerstall.
Due to Sparta’s disruptive play, Twente had long since lost the sparkle of recent weeks sometime in the first half, but still pulled forward once more in the closing minutes. Not graceful combination play, but pumping, all sorts of all-or-nothing attempts, into the five minutes of injury time.
Watch reactions from goal scorers Zerrouki and Van Crooij here:
Goal scorers Zerrouki and Van Crooij look forward to decisive return Sunday
Remarkably, Twente did not fire a single shot on goal until Sadilek pumped the ball in once more. Zerrouki timed just right, the outgoing goalkeeper Olij just wrong. With the Twente midfielder set to play for Feyenoord in Rotterdam next year, Sparta’s hopes of European soccer suddenly diminished enormously.
Now Sparta will have to win in Enschede, if not after ninety minutes, then perhaps after 120 or after penalties. Not impossible, after all, it was still 3-3 in the league in Enschede at the end of April.