NEC has done excellent business in the battle for the play-offs for European football. The Nijmegen club won 1-3 against RKC Waalwijk after a sensational first half hour and rose to the coveted eighth place.
For NEC there was a lot of pressure on the match against RKC. The team from Brabant occupied eighth place for Saturday, a place that is probably good for the last play-off ticket, and could run out to a seven-point lead with a win over coach Rogier Meijer’s team, because they still have a game in hand.
Not Philippe Sandler
NEC had Lasse Schöne again available against RKC, who has recovered from an ankle injury and took the place of Jordy Bruijn in midfield. The club had to do without Philippe Sandler, who sustained an upper leg injury against FC Utrecht (2-2) last week and was replaced in the center of the back by Joris Kramer.
NEC already had an unprecedented 0-3 lead against RKC after half an hour, but that was very strange given the opening phase. The visitors escaped a backlog on two occasions. Jasper Cillessen saved in a one-on-one duel with Mats Seuntjens and Julian Lelieveld and showed his class for the umpteenth time this season.
NEC then struck mercilessly, although Landry Dimata still encountered Etienne Vaessen between the chances of Seuntjens and Lelieveld with a header from close range from a perfect cross by Bart van Rooij. After that it was prize shooting for NEC and one goal was even more beautiful than the other.
Shot hard through the wall
Tannane put NEC 0-1 in the eighteenth minute. The midfielder shot the ball into the short corner after a smart pass from Dimata from the edge of the penalty area. Eight minutes later, Elayis Tavsan doubled the score. The attacker cut in after a good pass from Dirk Proper and hit the ball into the intersection. And in the 31st minute Tannane made it 0-3. He shot a free kick from about twenty meters through the wall, which surprised Vaessen and sent the ball straight into the goal.
Everything happened in the rest. It rained on both sides (for example, a shot from Seuntjens hit the crossbar via the fingertips of Cillessen, who also prevented Michiel Kramer from tapping in a rebound and Magnus Mattsson clumsily mowed over the ball) and the second half was also full of the VAR moments.
Referee Dennis Higler gave a penalty after just twenty seconds, but withdrew that decision on the advice of the VAR, which saw that Yassin Oukili touched the ball instead of Dimata. Twenty minutes before the end, Higler did put the ball on the spot, but he again needed the help of the VAR, which found that Shawn Adewoye was on the foot of Souffian El Karouani. However, Tannane missed the penalty kick by shooting the ball into Vaessen’s hands.
Just before that, RKC had somewhat reduced the tension with the 1-3. Vurnon Anita shot in a rebound after Cillessen did not process a bet from Seuntjens optimally. Remarkably enough, it remained at that score, because NEC survived a final offensive by RKC and Tavsan and substitute Anthony Musaba hit the post and Andri Baldursson, also a substitute, left a great opportunity unused.
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