N.E.C. managed to maintain their excellent home record of just two losses this Eredivisie campaign as a fierce gung-ho final minutes brought them a late, but deserved equalizer. PSV lacked creativity, playing without Toivonen, leaving Berg and Koevermans on the bench and of course, missing Afellay since the winter transfer window.
The preferred formation in this Eredivisie season is definitely the 4-2-3-1. Both PSV and N.E.C. consequently play this formation and variety should not be expected in terms of tactics, but more in terms of the starting eleven.
PSV manager Rutten finally punished Markus Berg for his recent substandard performances and gave young striker Genero Zeekfuik his first start for the club. Behind him, Otman Bakkal replaced Ola Toivonen who suffers from a four game suspension after his elbow on Jan Vertonghen in the game against Ajax. Otherwise, PSV played their standard first eleven, this time with Maza Rodriguez and Wilfred Bouma in the heart of their defense and Marcelo on the bench. Rutten has tended to rotate between his three central defenders during recent games.
N.E.C. welcomed Leroy George for his second start since his injury against the away game against PSV earlier this season. The right winger’s pace seems an important asset to provide some variety in their attacking play, as the majority of goals have simply been scored by one man, Belgian striker Björn Vleminckx. In defensive midfield they miss passing midfielder Niki Zimling, as the Danish international is suspended after his late direct red card against ADO. He is replaced by Lorenzo Davids.
The first half
PSV started the game positively, pressing their opponents back and dominating the opening five minutes. But after this early opening phase, the home team grew into their game more and more. PSV still had the better of the game, but N.E.C. improved their control on the midfield part of the game. Bas Sibum did a good job man-marking Bakkal out of the game and debutant striker Zeefuik had a tough time against the physical presence of both Nuytinck and Zomer in N.E.C.’s central defense.
PSV did create a handful of opportunities, mainly through Jeremain Lens, who had an excellent game and displayed a high work rate. He more than once had the better of his opponent, the Frenchman Amieux. PSV’s main source of danger was this right flank. Bulgarian right-back Manolev is known for his overlapping runs, and, it must be said, also for his abysmal crossing. But this time around, it was his excellent cross that found Balasz Dszudszak at the far post for PSV’s equalizer. While it was certainly not against the run of play for PSV to score, the fact that it was Dszudszak scoring contrasted with his unusually anonymous game up to that moment.
N.E.C. had just a minute before gone a goal up thanks to a magnificent long range strike by Leroy George. He had indeed been N.E.C.’s prima source of danger during the few times that they succeeded in playing him in behind PSV’s defensive line.
The main difference between the teams, apart from the individual player quality of PSV’s wingers, was made in midfield. N.E.C. lost numerous balls here which allowed PSV to start their counters in their opponent’s half. Particularly Davids’ passing was off the mark and N.E.C. seemed to miss their passing midfielder Zimling here. PSV, on the other hand, connected quite well in midfield as Lasse Schöne often preferred to step out of the midfield to press PSV’s central defenders. This left Davids with both Engelaar and Hutchinson and that explained why PSV had a relatively easy game in the midfield passing department.
The second half
Initially the game went on in the same pattern as the first half, but gradually PSV gained more control. Bakkal got himself more involved than before after taking a slightly deeper role, playing more as a true third midfielder than playing as the advanced midfielder that Toivonen usually does.
But N.E.C. upped their game, clearly motivated by manager Vloet and they did not hold back in tackling their opponents. Their midfield passing game might have been astray today, but they certainly made up for it with their tackling. Particularly Davids played a much better second half in this regard.
Despite these positives, N.E.C. suffered a goal around the hour mark as Lens got a free run at the goal after left-back Amieux suffered from a muscular injury during a tackle. The PSV winger rounded Zomer and fired in at the first post to give his team the lead.
But instead of controlling the game and playing for the third goal, PSV seemed to have problems controlling possession. Lacking Afellay in midfield, they had a tough time playing around N.E.C.’s committed tackling.
With fifteen minutes to go Rutten replaced Zeefuik with Berg, perhaps hoping for an improvement in ball retention up front, but the Swede played a large anonymous role in his part of the game. Vloet, meanwhile, removed one of his defenders. Actually, Wellenberg, who replaced Will earlier that half, suffered from a knee injury, and Vloet took the opportunity at hand to bring young striker Ricky ten Voorde. Now playing a sort of 3-1-3-3 formation, N.E.C. certainly took the game to their opponents.
And in the final minutes of the game they saw their commitment and gung-ho style of attacking rewarded with the equalizer. Captain Ramon Zomer crowned a decent game in defense with a second post header to give the hosts the point they deserved.
In the end
PSV certainly lost two important points in this tricky away fixture in between the Europa League meetings with Rangers. Not being able to play around N.E.C.’s committed tackling and failing to take enough offensive profit from their earlier dominance in the midfield passing department, they got punished with a late equalizer in the end.