Narrow win for Ajax at Eredivisie season start, Robben’s comeback ends in misery

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The first round of the 2020-21 Eredivisie season saw 10-man Ajax beat Sparta 1-0 in Rotterdam on Sunday, while Arjen Robben left the pitch injured in his comeback to football for FC Groningen.

It was the first match weekend in the Dutch top-flight league since last season was cancelled at the beginning of March this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Title favorite Ajax suffered a serious setback after half an hour of play at Sparta Rotterdam. Defender Nicolas Tagliafico got a red card after he tried to stop Mohamed Rayhi, but touched the ball with his hand while sliding.

One man down, Ajax nevertheless managed to score and secure the victory. Brazilian signing Antony, who arrived from Sao Paulo FC, gave his team the lead in his league debut. Sparta had chances to equalize in the remainder of the match, but Ajax held on for the win.

Former Dutch international Robben celebrated his much-anticipated return to the Eredivisie after an absence of 16 years and 155 days. The 36-year-old resumed his career at FC Groningen this summer after having retired for one season. His comeback at home against PSV was disappointing as he limped off injured after half an hour.

Cody Gakpo earned PSV a 1-0 lead shortly after Robben left the pitch. After a mistake by PSV goalkeeper Yvan Mvogo, FC Groningen substitute Tomas Suslov equalized, but Donyell Malen answered quickly with a goal on an assist by Noni Madueke. After a missed penalty by Malen Gakpo, he decided the match with his second goal from a counter attack to make it 3-1 for PSV.

Elsewhere on Sunday, VVV-Venlo booked a spectacular 5-3 win at FC Emmen, Heracles Almelo beat ADO Den Haag 2-0 and Vitesse was too strong for RKC Waalwijk, winning 1-0. The FC Utrecht-AZ match was postponed to give AZ more time to prepare for next Tuesday’s match at Dynamo Kiev in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Ajax
Ajax

On Saturday, SC Heerenveen defeated Willem II 2-0 through goals by Lucas Woudenberg and Pawel Bochniewicz. Steven Berghuis led Feyenoord to a 2-0 win at PEC Zwolle with a brace. FC Twente started with a 2-0 home win over Fortuna Sittard.

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