Belmondo February 2019

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SATURDAY February 2nd, 2019

Game day. N.E.C. v Heracles.

We got the opening goal with a nice, flowing move started by the on-loan defender, Nwakali. Crivelli finished it with a pass to Nagasawa who slammed it home. Rajkovic got us a second just before the end of the half when he headed home a Fetfatzidis free kick.

The second half started even better than the first, when Crivelli finished a cross from the Aussie, Fogarty, in the third minute. Nagasawa scored a fourth, but it was called back after the referee whistled for an alleged push by Joosten. Incredible. Poor Arno wasn’t anywhere near the guy who fell over and Kazuki ran over to the linesman to express his disbelief. He was given a yellow card for his trouble.

The game finished with Rajkovic picking up two yellow cards in five minutes, followed by a free kick that Jimmy Smits fumbled, leading to an easy goal for Heracles. Keystone Kops stuff there. But a win despite the ref being a bit overenthusiastic with the yellows.

TUESDAY February 5th, 2019

Game day. N.E.C. v Ajax. Dutch Cup Quarter Final.

Ajax visited Nijmegen for the second time in six days. We hadn’t lost to them this season and we planned to keep it that way. We were still missing Diarra who is gallivanting around Africa and Ayoub who is nursing his groin. That meant Nwakali was in the defensive midfield position again and also that I was nervous as hell.

In the 23rd minute, we survived a bit of a scare, but Golla cleared. His ball somehow managed to find Uth who quickly launched a counter attack. A few sneaky passes later and Christian Santos had the ball inside the box only to be viciously fouled by Van Rhijn. Jeremias stepped up to take the penalty and converted with a shot just inside the left post.

We got another shot against their new keeper, De Lange, but went to the half happily leading by one. Truth be told, we were dominating the game. The home crowd was loving it. The players too – they’d hogged 60% of the possession.

Apart from a shot off the post in the 67th, Ajax never looked like getting back into the game. We maintained the 60% possession and comfortably saw out the game. That was until the 92nd minute when Renteria poked a shot into the back of the net. Heads dropped everywhere, but thankfully while heads went down a flag went up. Offside! We won!

Still haven’t lost to Ajax this season.

THURSDAY February 7th, 2019

Souleymane Diarra started in Mali’s losing effort in the semi final. Mali lost 1-0 in extra time and Diarra was on the entire game. N.E.C. has a full-on international player. And he needs to get his ass back to Nijmegen pronto.

FRIDAY February 8th, 2019

Game day. Vitesse v N.E.C.

Of course Vitesse. Of course Ricky van Wolfswinkel. If any team was going to break our streak, it would have to be Vitesse. Twenty-six games without a loss and it comes to our arch enemies to end the run.

The goal was well-executed. A nice, short through ball and a shot sent just inside the post. It’s hard to complain about the end of a three-month run without a loss, but it was Vitesse. I’m complaining.

WEDNESDAY February 20th, 2019

It took two wins for me to get over the Vitesse tragedy. We beat Fortuna Sittard away by 2-1 and FC Twente 1-0 at home. Hopefully we can put another run together. With a pair of games coming against Zenit, not losing would be great news.

THURSDAY February 21st, 2019

Game day. Zenit St. Petersburg v N.E.C. Europa League Knockout Round 1st Leg.

Soccer in Russia in February is great fun. The top temperature on the day was -10 Celsius. That’s 14 in proper degrees. We were also blessed with a squalling wind and a light dusting of snow. So, basically perfect soccer weather.

The injury to Ayoub made it tough going in. I had to put Van der Heijden in the deep midfield position. Other than that we had a strong team. They lined up with two very deep defensive midfielders. Obviously heard about me.

Three yellow cards for us in the first twenty minutes. Had to have been the cold causing those poor decisions. From the ref – not my players, who are saints. It was a dire first half with only one shot on target for us. One shot of any kind for them.

They did get a shot on target in the fiftieth minute from a guy named Hulk. I did some research after the game and it appears that it’s not a joke name. One minute after that shot, we scored a goal after Uth cleaned up the scraps from a pair of shots. I’m not sure how the first one didn’t go in, so I’d say we deserved the goal. An away goal is always delicious.

Another minute went by before we got another golden opportunity, but this time it was squandered by Breno. We really felt that miss after 66 minutes when Dzyuba scored on a break. Hulk smashed the ball into the post in the 83rd, but that was all she wrote. A scoring draw away in the first leg. I’ll take it even though we dominated.

FRIDAY February 22nd, 2019

We’ve set the record for the greatest number of goals scored in a Europa League season. And we’ve only played up the first game of the first elimination round. Wow. I think the officially makes me a legend. I’ll check into it.

SATURDAY February 23rd, 2019

FC Twente just fired their manager. After losing to us last weekend. I’m seriously good at humiliating opposing coaches to the point that they’re fired immediately after losing to me. I guess I’d call it a knack.

SUNDAY February 24th, 2019

Game day. N.E.C v PSV.

We got one of those freak goals. Fetfatzidis ran down the left flank and crossed the ball. It wasn’t the best cross of his career, but the PSV keeper tried to punch it away. He failed. The ball popped up in the air a bit and fell to the feet of that Venezuelan Adonis, Christian Santos. Santos did his job and we went a goal ahead.

Five minute later it was equal. And so it remained. For the half and for the game. Not for lack of trying, mind you. We peppered their keeper to no avail.

THURSDAY February 28th, 2019

Game day. N.E.C. v Zenit St. Petersburg. Europa League Knockout Round 2nd Leg.

We welcomed the Russkies with a reasonable temperature and streaming sunshine. We followed it up with a four minute brace from Mark Uth. Weirdly, that quick-fire brace was scored around a goal from Danny in which he sent Goicoechea the wrong way with a nice little feint. Three goals in 21 minutes was a nice way for the game to start for the fans. Little did they know what they were about to witness.

In the 37th minute, Hulk smashed the ball into the net. It was the wrong net, so I was happy, not sad. He was defending (poorly) a corner and swung that big leg at the wrong angle. Six minutes later, Golla got his head onto a corner and we had ourselves another set piece goal. Four to one in the first half. That was an easy half time talk, let me tell you.

Vela made it five early in the second half. Zenit toiled valiantly, but when the mighty Nijmegen scores five against you in front of the Goffert faithful, you don’t get up off the mat. Jeremiah bossed the game from the midfield, which is a really nice sign for the future.

After the game, it was announced that we’d be playing Fiorentina. They will, no doubt, be unhappy about that.

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