January 30, 2017

PSV Prevail as Penalty Shootout Pays Homage to Panenka

PSV Eindhoven saw off Esperance De Tunis following an entertaining penalty shootout, despite having been second best for much of the 90 minutes.

Both PSV and Tunis had fallen short in their first play-off games, losing to Kashiwa Reysol and PSG respectively on Saturday. Now competing for 7th and 8th place, the sides were hoping to end their campaign on a high and secure a win before the journey home.

Unable to register a victory since the opening day, Eindhoven would be seeking to exploit Tunis’ instability in front of goal by dedicating more men up field. The Tunisians, on the other hand, would be looking to exploit the defensive frailties exhibited by The Boeren in previous fixtures.

Tunis began in impressive fashion and were soon ahead.

Having picked up the ball in the midfield, Moataz Ouertani side-stepped his man and put star striker Oussama Gurbouj through on goal. Although the resultant shot was clearly miskicked when it scuffed off the striker’s boot, it played to his advantage. The keeper was sent the wrong way, and the shot rolled towards the bottom corner and finally nestled in the side netting.

It was clear that manager Zied Amara wasn’t content with just a one goal lead, and encouraged his side to search for another. A long goal kick from keeper Fares Jbali was caught by the wind and took everyone by surprise. The ball hung in the air before dropping to Gurbouj, who’s first time half-volley dipped up and over the keeper. Unfortunately, it didn’t drop in time to sneak under the bar, skimming off the woodwork and out and allowing the Dutch to clear.

Esperance continued to dominate, and impressed throughout the first half. Unlike in previous matches, Gurbouj was receiving quality service, allowing for the striker to test the opposition keeper and keep his side on top.

However, the Dutch side’s ability to counter has been a feature of their performances at Al Kass, and in the 35th minute it was the turn of Tunis to suffer. Sekou Sidibe’s close control and delicate dribbling freed up enough space for him to cut the ball to the edge of the box, where Mohamed Ihattaren was waiting. The pass connected with the midfielder’s instep and curled into the far corner, well out of Jbali’s reach.

The sides went into the break on level terms, although it was clear to see that PSV were struggling. Their opposition were more organised in attacking areas, and seemed to have higher energy levels when it came to tracking back. This, along with their increased physicality, had allowed Tunis to dominate the first 45 with ease.

The second half followed a similar pattern. Esperance’s efficiency on the ball and superior communication saw them create chance after chance and, had it not been for keeper Kyan Van Dorp, Gurbouj could have earned himself a hat-trick with ease.

But despite PSV enduring relentless Esperance attacks, the Tunisian side couldn’t score. The second half was rather uneventful, and at 90 minutes the sides were still level, necessitating Al Kass 2017’s second penalty shootout. It was theatrical in comparison to that of Madrid and Reysol, with all manner of spot-kicks making an appearance.

Top scorers Sidibe and Gurbouj took their team’s first shots, both scoring in convincing fashion by tucking the ball low into the bottom corner. PSV goalscorer Ihattaren approached the spot in confident fashion, and proceeded to execute the world famous Panenka penalty with aplomb, chipping the ball gently = down the centre of goal, as an onlooking Jbali watched in despair. However, when Alaa Latrech attempted the same audacious trick for Tunis, he didn’t achieve the desired result, as Van Dorp got low to his left to keep the ball out. The two sides then traded goals until Andrew Mendonca fired the winning penalty into the top corner to ensure PSV emerged victorious.