ADO Den Haag 2 v 4 FC Groningen
Well what can I say? I have never seen an atmosphere like it before in Holland, even at International level. ADO’s fans after raising over 8,000 Euros put on a display that sent goose bump over your skin and shivers down your spine. A choreographed display of colour involving 12,000 flags and huge banners covered the stadium as the teams came onto the pitch. I saw the look on the players faces as they walked onto the field of play, they were in awe. This was a huge thank you from the supporters to the team, management and all those associated with ADO Den Haag for the great season they have had, so many highlights, not least the wins home and away against Ajax and the win at PSV.
The game, if you were a Groningen fan or a neutral was a real spectacular affair. The first half was end to end stuff, full of free flowing football and goal mouth action. Unfortunately the ADO team just did not really appear for the match. The return of Lex Immers to the team after a four match suspension bolstered the forward line and he looked keen to put on a show for his followers.
FC Groningen took the lead in the thirteenth minute. Somehow Leandro Bacuna got himself clear to cross the ball despite the efforts of three ADO defenders; the cross was accurate and was met by Petter Andersson who had the easy task of sliding the ball passed Coutinho, 0-1.
Twenty five minutes played and following a wonderful cross by Verhoek, Bulykin powered a header into the back of the net after cutting across his marker at the near post, the crowd exploded with a noise of people so desperate to win that is was hurting them, 1-1.
Just on the half hour mark, Derijck needlessly gave the ball away when under no pressure. Groningen moved forward quickly until Fredrik Stenman was put in one on one with Coutinho. The ADO keeper won the first test and saved well at close range, only for Stenman to drive the rebound back into the net, 1-2.
ADO were the architects of their own downfall. Some of the passing from the back-line was truly awful. There was a lack of passion, and considering there was still a possibility of direct European qualification it was unbelievable how simply they gave away possession and allowed Groningen to come at them.
The home side got back on level terms in the forty second minute. Verhoek was yet again coming to the aid of his team. After breaking through down the left wing, he put in another well delivered cross towards Bulykin, as he tried to turn, he fell under pressure from Jeroen Validate, despite pleading his innocence, the referee awarded a penalty. Bulykin put the ball down, took a few steps back before send the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-2.
In the final seconds of the first half, Vicento raced down the left wing before cutting in a cross low across the area. Luciano couldn’t reach the ball and as it passed the far post, Bulykin came racing in at full speed, lunged full length at the bal, just making enough contact to steer the ball against the outside of the post and out for a defender to clear, Bulykin was so close to a first half hat-trick.
Half time was another chance for the home support to show their thanks for the season so far. Several enormous banners were hung around the stadium, including the reappearance of the famous “Hague Goodfellas.”
The second half began well for ADO, putting the visitors under pressure and having a great deal of the possession. However more errant passing saw Groningen break through again and take the lead again in the Fifty second minute. This time Immers tried what looked to be an easy cross field pass, only to see Dusan Tadic race away with the ball. The pass to Andersson just inside the box saw the striker keep his composure and then chip the ball over Coutinho with a sublime finish, top class Groningen, Immers was distraught, 2-3.
ADO were not the only ones that looked not completely aware of the games importance. Several refereeing decisions were very bad in the game, it seems of late that ADO have been on the wrong side of many dodgy decisions, far too many in all honesty. In the seventy fifth minute, ADO should have been awarded a free-kick, as Vicento got down the left to cross the ball, the Groningen defender was no more that three metres away and as the cross came over, Jonas Ivans raised his hands to block the shot, the referee had a clear view and just waved play on, an horrendous error.
In the eighty third minute, Groningen was still pressing forward and earned a throw-in on the right. Some swift footwork saw the ball reach Tom Hiareij, his touch was excellent and his finish exquisite as he curled the ball into the top corner leaving Coutinho helpless; a stunning finish that sealed a deserved victory for the visitors.
As the ninetieth minute clocked down some yellow and green smoke bombs were thrown, filling the stadium with smoke that any hope of playing any extra injury time was impossible. Fireworks were also thrown on the pitch after the final whistle. This may have been over exuberant celebrations, but could cause trouble for the club with the KNVB, the Dutch football governing body. Anything from a fine to maybe a match played behind closed doors? Also it has since been revealed that a lot of expensive damage has been caused to the LED advertising screens around the stadium, which will cost a lot to repair. Such a shame for the game to end this way as all that had gone before it had been a true credit of the fans support for the club, everybody was so elated, but due to the actions of very few, could be over shadowed. The work put in by the fans for the days displays had truly been amazing, they had been in the stadium until 04.00 getting it all ready. Now the club are pleading for information about those who created the problems, yet are still most thankful, proud and happy of 99.99% of the supporters within the Kyocera stadion
ADO man of the match: Verhoek, again ADO’s main threat to the opposition.