Europa League play-offs: FC Utrecht 1 – 2 FC Twente, Utrecht survive scare

What was anticipated as a  relatively comfortable game for FC Utrecht turned out to be a battle. FC Twente were decisive at both ends of the field, with two incredible long distance goals in the first half and a comical error in the second which lead to the crucial FC Utrecht goal.

Things looked bright and sunny at the start, with FC Utrecht dominating play and creating the better chances. Australian winger Tommy Oar was a constant threat and forced Sander Boschker into a couple of saves. Jens Toornstra was another who attracted attention in positive fashion, the midfielder has been a revelation the last months and showed why his call up to the Dutch national team was deserved. But after the first 15 minutes, FC Twente started to get into the game a bit more.

In the 34th minute, Dusan Tadic opened up the game with a thunderous left footed shot from long distance. A swerved ball landed in the top left corner, 0-1. Two minutes later, Nacer Chadli followed the Serbian winger’s example. The Belgian playmaker hit an effort from distance perfectly with his right foot, pulling Twente level on aggregate with the Utrechters. All of a sudden, the home side, who looked solid beforehand, were all over the place. Luc Castaignos and Leroy Fer brought out the best in Ruiter, who kept his side in the game and made sure they survived until the break.

The second half started with a couple of errors by FC Twente and FC Utrecht seized the opportunity. A bad kick by Sander Boschker, who was already unlucky in the first game, was miscontrolled by Felipe Gutierrez and with the keeper out of goal, French winger Edouard Duplan passed the ball in the back of the net from 25 metres out. With FC Utrecht leading 3-2 on aggregate, FC Twente desperately pushed on in the second half, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. FC Utrecht crowned their season with European football as the Stadion Galgenwaard exploded with joy after the final whistle.

Stadion Galgenwaard explodes

Stadion Galgenwaard explodes after FC Utrecht seal Europa League football.

FC Twente interim manager Alfred Schreuder was realistic. “We came one goal short in the end. FC Utrecht started out strong and was the better team. But we continued playing our football and have ended the season with a victory.” The one goal they needed would’ve given them something to build upon, but missing out on European football wasn’t something that just happened in this game.”This is the outcome of a whole season. In the end, we finish the season disappointingly, but I am glad we made some good steps.”

FC Utrecht manager Jan Wouters was jubilant: “I have never been hugged so much and felt this type of joy after a loss,” he told De Telegraaf.”This comes close to (the feeling after) winning the European Championships in 1988. Especially because everybody had written us off at the beginning of the season. It’s the first time ever I really got emotional after achieving success. I think that says something.”

FC Utrecht will join Feyenoord, Vitesse and AZ in the Europa League and will have their first game of the new season on the 18th of July. The second round of the Europa League preliminaries will be kicking off then.

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