ADO 2-3 Sparta Rotterdam
With the rain pouring down and the wind swirling around the stadium, conditions were not looking conducive to a good game of football. Well it was a good job I wasn’t pretending to see the future, as this game turned out to be a thriller and the goal tally could have easily reached double figures.
Within thirty seconds of the kick off, ADO had their first attempt on the Sparta goal. From a long ball forward Immers shot from thirty metres out, an easy save by Aleksander Seliga, but it showed ADO’s intent on this match.
Still in the first minute; ADO were awarded a free kick thirty metres out after a foul on Soltani. Ricky van den Bergh took charge. He fired the kick over the defensive wall and only Seliga’s excellent flying dive to his left prevented a goal. The atmosphere inside the ground was as though it was charged with electricity, the noise from both sets of supporters was deafening. Sparta’s manager, Frans Adelaar was already going crazy, his arms windmilling as he tried to get messages out to his players to tighten up at the back.
Nine minutes in to the Game and Sparta’s Erik Falkenburg played some delightful one touch passes with several of his team mates. He worked his way inside the field and unleashed a powerful right foot shot. Ditewig would have had it covered, but the ball deflected off the outstretched leg of Derijck and curled wide of the keeper and just squeezed inside the left post, 0-1.
ADO almost hit back immediately. From the restart the ball was played out to the right touchline. Pique moved forward and whipped over a wicked cross. Was it a cross? Only he would know, but it swung in the air forcing Seliga to back peddle frantically to palm the ball away for a corner.
Eleven minutes and Sparta go on the attack down the left wing. Darko Bodul meanders his way through a sea of defensive statues to give himself enough space to shoot. The rain soaked pitch caused havoc to Ditewig who managed to sprawl across his goal to push the low drive away for a corner. Sparta was beginning to take charge of the game. ADO needed to stay focused or it was going to be a very difficult time for them.
ADO gained a free kick after twenty three minutes. A foul on Pique wide on the right allowed another accurate van den Bergh to penetrate the visitors’ penalty box. Derijck rose clear of his marker to see his effort go just wide of the stanchion. He showed no secret of his disappointment as he turned away.
Twenty four minutes played and a Sparta attack breaks down due to the misunderstanding of several of their players. The looks they gave each other could have released a whole Pandora’s Box of evils, and so it was, as they were punished. ADO went down the right again, Immers combining well with Pique, who passed a low, hard cross in to the danger area, Vicento reacted with the speed of light and his wonderful back heel was met right footed by Derijck to sweep the ball in to the back of the net, 1-1.
A quiet spell for a few minutes, it was needed as it was breathless to watch, let alone play in. In the thirty eighth minute the game burst in to life again. An attacking move by Sparta developed in to a scrambled mess of head tennis and pinball; total confusion reigned inside the ADO penalty area. The ball eventually found its way out to Kevin Strootman on the left. With a great deal of skill he dinked the ball towards the penalty spot where Falkenburg latched on to it and struck the ball home passed a helpless Ditewig, 1-2.
Forty minutes and Sparta almost extend their lead. A long ball out from the Sparta defense saw Bodul racing away clear, with plenty of space to run in to, he drew Ditewig out of his goal. In the one on one situation Bodul won the battle of nerves and fired passed the keeper only to see his shot just pass wide of the right hand upright.
The rain is now a torrent, you could hardly see through it when the gusts of wind added more force to it. Players were sliding on the wet surface and the ball was at times uncontrollable. This dictated the approach play of both teams, long high balls becoming the normal option to get forward. This finally got ADO their equalizer. The ball broke out wide to Pique who just lashed a ball in to the penalty box. Milic got his head to it but just bounced high in to the air. The Sparta keeper and defence just stood watching. The only person to react was Vicento who got to an awkward bounce first to prod the ball over the line to make it 2-2.
The whistle blew to signal the end of the first half. Very entertaining, could have been more goals. At times both teams went about their play in a Kamikaze style, which I am sure must have had both managers talking loud and clear to their respective sodden teams.
The second half started as the first ended. Sparta went directly for goal. Two passes and Falkenburg surges through, to what looked like his hat trick goal. Ditewig charge out to him, Falkenburg chipped the advancing keeper and unluckily for him also chipped the bar, a let off for ADO.
Sparta was looking the more dangerous as the game continued, seemed to deal with the conditions far better than the ADO players. On fifty nine minutes Strootman gathers the ball on the half way line and plays the ball wide to Romano Denneboom the ball is returned and a cross is sent deep in to ADO’s box. An unmarked Edouard Duplan races in and hits his instant shot across the goal. Somehow Ditewig manages to stretch out his right foot to knock the ball away, great acrobatics by the ADO keeper.
Ado on the half hour pushed on by a vociferous crowd attacked the Sparta penalty, putting it under siege. First Soltani rockets a shot in from the edge of the area, only to see a great reaction by Seliga push the ball over the bar. Five minutes later van den Bergh takes a corner on the left. In an instant, Soltani collects the ball, controls it and unleashes a powerful drive goal wards. The keeper is beaten; Soltani turns to celebrate only to watch as the Sparta defender Donovan Slijngard threw himself in front of the shot. The power in the shot knocked Slijngard over the line but the ball went clear, excellent defending.
Sixty nine minutes and Sparta get a break. Joshua John finds himself in acres of space to run in to. AS he looks up there are a few options open for him to play a killer ball; a tidy pass inside to Denneboom. The forward controls it neatly and bends the shot nicely over Ditewig in to the back of the net. AS he celebrates the linesman is waving his flag for offside. No arguments fro the player himself, but a huge let off for ADO who was truly caught out by the speed of that break.
ADO begins to threaten more and more, turning the screw on Sparta’s resistance. On Seventy eight minutes some wonderful skill by Verhoek on the right wing sees him able to get in a cross. Soltani is again the man in the open, his execution of the volley was perfect, right footed he hit the ball hard towards the goal. Some how it crashes in to a combination of post and goal keeper, it just wasn’t going for Soltani who threw his head back in disbelief.
The ninety minutes are up and an extra three minutes are to be added. ADO is awarded a free kick out wide on the left. Van den Bergh floats in a cross. Horvath arrives; ghosting in unnoticed at the far post, but he only gets the faintest of touches on the ball and the chance goes begging.
The extra three minutes are up, but still teams seek out the three point victory. A long clearance out from the Sparta defence sees Joshua John racing clear down the left. He cuts inside to be met by Ditewig. The keeper wins the challenge and palms the ball way. The ball rolls out to Strootman who lobs the ball goal wards. Derijck is by the post and was just about to head the ball way to safety when Ditewig manages to fling himself across the goal in front of Derijck and claws the ball down. Falkenburg can’t believe is luck as the ball falls at his feet and just pokes the ball over the line. The celebrations begin. You could Ditewig motioning that he did not hear Derijcks’ call to leave the ball for him. Ditewig was distraught and looked close to tears, 2-3.
The Sparta fans were dancing in the stands. The three points were all wrapped up. Such a shame that a small miscommunication had cost ADO any reward from this well fought battle. It was too late to reply, the flame of hope distinguished as the referee blew the final whistle. The Sparta players made the most of their late victory celebrating in some kind of victory waltz in the centre circle.
NO team deserved to lose that game. Best match I have seen for many years, very open end to end play. Lots of skill was on show and all this in atrocious conditions. A draw would have been a fair result. Sparta fans were elated, the ADO support deflated. Both teams did themselves proud!
ADO man of the match; Soltani, just tried and tried and tried, great spirit and energy.