Comeback in Kralingen

1 december 2018

FC Utrecht nick a point despite quickly going 3-0 down away to Excelsior: 3-3.

FC Utrecht held on to a point in a game of two halves in Kralingen. Head trainer Dick Advocaat’s team let in three goals in the first half hour but thanks to a fantastic spell in the second half it took home a point from the Kralingen astroturf: 3-3.

Simon Gustafson was as cool as ice when he lined up behind the ball on the penalty spot. Ten minutes before, Excelsior had been 3-0 ahead and the Swede now had the chance to get the equaliser. And he did! Controlled and in the corner, his shot completed Utrecht’s comeback: 3-3.

Hungry wolves
And what a comeback it was. Excelsior had taken a comfortable lead but Utrecht wiped it off the scoreboard on the banks of the River Maas in record time. Gyrano Kerk was the first to give his team an energy boost. The striker struck home beautifully ten minutes after half time: 3-1. Like hungry wolves, Utrecht went on the hunt for another goal. And they didn’t have long to wait. Just five minutes later, substitute Nick Venema, as only he can, was in the right place at the right time: 3-2.

From free kick to penalty
And then there was the penalty, or actually a free kick. Because referee Richard Martens originally blew for a free kick when Oussama Tannane was fouled just outside the box. But video referee Erwin Blank had a word. On the VAR screen in Zeist he saw that the foul had been committed inside the area, not outside. So, it was a penalty for FC Utrecht. Gustafson claimed the ball and finished the job off.

Status quo
The match then entered a deadlock. There were chances on both sides but whereas Utrecht seemed to float over the artificial pitch in the first half the team came back down to earth after the equaliser. Excelsior looked to be in two minds. When you’re 3-0 you expect to take all three points and not be left empty handed. Perhaps 3-3 was the best the home team in the Van Donge & De Roo Stadium could hope for.

Woudestein weeping with joy
The stadium, as snug as it is, nearly burst out of its seams in the first half hour. The Icelander Elias Mar Omarsson gave his side a flying start by rifling the ball home from close range after six minutes: 1-0. Two minutes later, a measured shot by Ryan Koolwijk produced the 2-0, and the former Woudestein stadium was weeping with joy. When Luigi Bruins scored a penalty after 25 minutes, there seemed to be no end to the home team’s good fortune.

First time in 11 years
But not for long. Utrecht have been on the wrong end of a 3-0 score line in the Eredivisie 173 times in their history, and have lost every single match, but the team showed their resolve and booked an impressive result. Advocaat’s team came back from 3-0 to prevent a defeat for the first time since 2007. And after Sean Klaiber was shown a red card nine minutes from time, they did it with just ten men.

Next challenge: Heracles at home
Advocaat’s team can now prepare for the next challenge: Heracles Almelo at home. Utrecht will host the team from Overijssel on Sunday 9 December. The kick-off in the Galgenwaard is at 12.15.

Excelsior - FC Utrecht 3-3 (3-0)
6. Elias Mar Omarsson 1-0
8. Ryan Koolwijk 2-0
26. Luigi Bruins (strafschop) 3-0
55. Gyrano Kerk 3-1
61. Nick Venema 3-2
65. Simon Gustafson (strafschop) 3-3

Yellow cards: Herve Matthys (Excelsior), Oussama Tannane, Mark van der Maarel, Willem Janssen (FC Utrecht).

Red card: 85. Sean Klaiber (FC Utrecht, two yellows).

Attendance: 4,400.

Referee: Richard Martens.

Excelsior line-up:
Sonny Stevens; Jeffry Fortes, Herve Matthys, Thomas Oude Kotte, Lorenzo Burnet (74. Robin van der Meer); Jerdy Schouten (52. Dogucan Haspolat), Luigi Bruins, Ali Messaoud, Ryan Koolwijk (61. Mounir El Hamdaoui); Elias Mar Omarsson, Denis Mahmudov.

FC Utrecht line-up:
David Jensen; Sean Klaiber, Timo Letschert, Willem Janssen, Mark van der Maarel (46. Nick Venema); Simon Gustafson, Joris van Overeem, Urby Emanuelson; Sander van de Streek (82. Lukas Görtler); Gyrano Kerk, Oussama Tannane (90+3. Othmane Boussaid).

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