RECAP: WEEKEND DUTCH ACTION
Juan Agudelo picked up his first assist for Utrecht in his first start against Ductch leaders Ajax
FC Utrecht 1 - 1 Ajax
Juan Agudelo played a solid 90 minutes on Sunday, as FC Utrecht grabbed an unlikely point against league leading Ajax.
Agudelo nearly helped put Utrecht up early, setting up Mark van der Maarel with the game's first good opportunity, but Ajax keeper Jasper Cillissen managed made the save to keep the game scoreless.
Danny Blind was the first to put his name on the score sheet in the 25th minute. The Dutch international smoked a shot past Utrecht keeper Robin Ruitter from thirty yards out into the right corner to give Ajax the 1-0 lead.
Minutes later, Agudelo helped Utrecht draw level. The young American flicked a header towards the penalty area for Steve De Ridder, who turned Ajax defender Joel Vetman before rounding an onrushing Cillisen. The Belgian then finished into the wide open net, making the score 1-1 in the 33rd minute.
Despite holding advantages in both shots on net (5 to 2) and possession (61% to 39%), Ajax were unable to find a game winning goal as they failed to win for the first time in their last nine Eredivisie games. Utrecht, however, broke a four game losing streak in the league.
Both teams are off until Thursday when Utrecht take on PEC Zwolle, while Ajax face Groningen.
AZ 2 - 0 Groningen
Aron Johannsson went the distance for AZ, as Nemanja Gudelj netted two early goals to help the Alkmaar based team cruise to victory over Groningen Saturday.
Gudelj put his side on top in the third minute due to some incompetent Groningen defending. Jan Wuytens long free kick came floating into the penalty area for what should have been a simple clearance for Johan Kappelhof, but the Groningen defender barely managed to glance the cross and Gudelj responded quckly, sending a deflected shot into the left corner to make it 1-0.
The former Serbian youth international completed his brace in the 17th minute. Steven Berghuis's cross came in behind Gudelj, who tracked it perfectly and used a beautiful right footed scissor kick to double AZ's lead.
Johannsson had a relatively quiet day up top for AZ. The American striker was outshined by his teammates on the day and didn't contribute much worth noting.
The win pushes AZ up to sixth place in the Eredivisie. After some December struggles, Johannsson's team has won two out of their last three in the league.
AZ face a quick turnaround, as they travel to take on Vitesse Tuesday, while Groningen take on Ajax Thursday.
Helmond Sport 2 - 1 Excelsior
Charles Kazlauskas played the whole game for Helmond Sport, as they came from behind at home to take down Excelsior.
Kazlauskas slid up to defensive midfield for Friday's matchup. The Milwaukee native, who deputized as a left back last week against De Graafschap, has started at right wing, defensive midfield, left back, right back, and central back in Helmond's last eight games.
The guests came storming out of the gates, but Helmond keeper Wouter van der Steen turned away early efforts from Adil Aussar and Jordan Botaka to keep Helmond in the game early on.
However, as the first half drew to a close, Botaka broke the tie in Excelsior's favor. The powerful Club Brugge product received a pass from Aussar and sent a blast from ten yards out past a helpless van der Steen in the 42nd minute.
Helmond didnn't waste any time fighting back in the second half, as Ferry de Regt brought the hosts even in the 47th minute.
Davy Brouwers 12th goal of the season put Helmond ahead in the 76th minute. The Belgian attacker latched onto Mees Siers long throw in and sent a low drive into the back of the net, making it 2-1 Helmond.
Despite losing the battle of possession and having half the total shots of their opponent, Helmond held on to win and moved into the top half of the Eerste Divisie in the process.
Helmond don't play until February 10th when they take on Jong PSV, while Excelsior face Den Bosch next Sunday.