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Four Dutch teams crash out of UEFA Cup (

5 okt 2007 - Source:

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Holland were well-represented with five teams competing for a place in the UEFA Cup group stage. After Thursday night's first round second legs, though, AZ are the only team that have reached the next round, while the four remaining teams, Ajax, FC Groningen, sc Heerenveen as well as FC Twente, all crashed out of the UEFA Cup, summing up a dark night for Dutch football.

Ajax defended a 1-0 lead against Dynamo Zagreb from their first round first leg 1-0 win. The visitors from Croatia opened the scoring on 34 minutes from a penalty converted by Luka Modric. A 44, 000 crowd hoped Ajax would stage a brave comeback, but the hosts earned precious few chances. After Ajax had dominated the closing stages, the game went into extra time. Dynamo Zagreb effectively killed off the game, after Mario Mandzukic scored two goals in two minutes. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar netted a late double, but it was too little too late. Dynamo Zagreb won the double tie on away goals, heaping more misery on the Amsterdam outfit, whose European dreams have been scattered at the beginning of October.
FC Groningen provided tough opposition against Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi and Erik Nevland even gave them the lead. Adrian Mutu scored the 1-1 equalizer and after extra time penalties were taken to get a result. Fiorentina claimed a 4-3 penalty win in the end. Helsingborg from Sweden hammered sc Heerenveen 5-1. FC Twente finished themselves off at the Arke Stadium in Enschede. They had slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their first leg away against Getafe, but Rob Wielaert headed an equalizer on the half hour mark. After the break Ramon Zomer first headed the ball wide, with the goal at his mercy, before N'Kufo had a spot kick saved. And things went from bad to worse when the Swiss international was sent off for hitting an opponent. Getafe took a 2-1 lead in the first half of extra time and although Orlando Engelaar and Zomer scored late goals for the hosts, the Spanish team, coached by Michael Laudrup, reached the next phase, thanks to their two away goals.

AZ are the only Dutch team that have reached the group stage, after they settled for a hard-fought goalless draw with FC Pa├žos. The goal that Sebastien Pocognoli scored in the dying seconds of the first leg in Portugal proved to be enough to send AZ through to the next round. AZ coach Louis van Gaal admitted that his side had had a tough time in the first round. 'There was a lot of pressure on the team and there was still a lack of self-confidence.'