VAR Controversy Denies Heerenveen After Spirited Comeback

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar January 21, 2019 20:56

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VAR Controversy Denies Heerenveen After Spirited Comeback

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By Satish Sekar at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA © Satish Sekar (January 20th 2019)

Goals Galore, Penalties and VAR

Ajax lost the opportunity to catch PSV after the Eredivisie had been surprisingly held to 2-2 draw by FC Emmen in the earlier kick off. Second placed Ajax were held to a 4-4 draw in the Johan Cruijff Arena this evening.

Former Southampton and Serbia striker Dušan Tadić and Heerenveen’s Sam Lammers broth scored a brace and bagged an assist as well as being involved in penalty issues. Pelle van Amersfoort scored a bizarre own goal, which was cancelled out by Michel van Bergen. With less than ten minutes remaining substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar put Ajax ahead, but one minute into added time Kik Pierie equalised.

There was still time for Tadić to have a penalty saved by the legs of Heerenveen keeper Warner Hahn and for Ajax keeper to escape any sanction for their keeper, Kostas Lamprou’s blatant foul on Lammers, despite VAR telling the referee Serdar Gözübüyük to have another look.

Fine Lines

Tadić was both hero and villain for Ajax as he scored two, but fluffed his penalty. Tadić claimed a swift first half brace and had the opportunity to complete his hat-trick with practically the last kick of the first half, but his penalty – down the middle – was fortunately saved by Heerenveen’s keeper Warner Hahn with his legs as he dived to his left.

Heerenveen’s Head Trainer, Johnny Jansen, said, “It was good for us,” and conceded that had Tadić scored that penalty it would have been too much for his team to come back from.

But Jansen had a weapon. In between Tadić’s brace Lammers a 21-year-old striker on loan from PSV, claimed the first of his brace after Kik Pirie put him in. Tadić scored his first after 13 minutes A short corner routine between Lasse Schöne and Hakim Ziyech freed the former to cross from the left for the Serbian striker to open his account.
No sooner had the celebrations ended than Heerenveen were level.

But 3 minutes later Tadić had restored Ajax’s lead after a one-two with Ziyech put him on the left to hoot over Hahn at his near post. The defending for Ajax to gain a two-goal was comic, although Jansen wouldn’t be laughing if his team hadn’t turned it around in the second half.

Pelle van Amersfoort’s needless trip on Noussair Mazraoui opened the door. He got punished further as Schöne’s freekick was ballooned up in the air by Stijn Schaars, coming down for Matthijs de Ligt to challenge to head, but van Amersfoort scored a comic own goal by heading in to his own net to Hahn’s right after 28 minutes.

Comeback

It could have been worse after Donny van de Beek was upended in the box by Lucas Woudenburg – penalty. A 4-1 deficit at half time would likely have been too much. Tadić had the chance to complete his hat-trick and put the match to bed in the first half, but diving to his left, Hahn got lucky, saving the penalty with his legs as Tadić chose to put it down the middle. Tadić’s misfortune proved to be the turning point.

It proved costly as 6 minutes after the break Lammers beat Lamprou to his left to make it 3-2. Shortly afterwards Lammers found space in the centre circle to put Mitchell van Bergen through on the right. Van Bergen equalised, only for substitute Klaas-Jan Hunntelaar to seemingly steal all three point back in the last ten minutes – steal as referee Serdar Gözübüyük had managed to ignore a blatant foul by keeper Kostas Lamprou on Lammers, less than ten minutes earlier, and after being alerted to his error, reviewed it again and reached the same decision.

It was a double whammy as Lamprou plainly not only clattered into the forward, but ought to have suffered the same fate as Robert Zwinkels yesterday.

“It was a penalty,” Jansen, said, and his opposite number, Ajax’s Erik ten Hag, channelling his inner Wenger, didn’t see it. The VAR wasn’t wrong – the interpretation, however, was awful, and suggests there is still some way to go to ensure that correct decisions are reached.

It seemed that Heerenveen would get no justice when an excellent Ajax move on the left culminated in Tadić’s cros being fired in by Huntelaar at the far post.

With four minutes of added time to play, Kik Pierie bundled Daniel Høegh’s corner in at the near post to give Heerenveen a share of the points. They remain 26 points behind Ajax, but on this form are capable of climbing u the Eredivisie table.

Ajax missed a golden chance to share top spot as earlier in the afternoon a late Niklas Pedersen brace robbed PSV Eindhoven of the points as FC Emmen also claimed a late draw – suddenly Feyenoord’s defeat by FC Zwolle yesterday is not as disastrous as it first looked.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar January 21, 2019 20:56