FC Groningen ends a disastrous year with a smile, but for Dick Lukkien there remains something to be desired in the winter

FC Groningen has ended the disaster year of 2023 on a positive note. At home, a large number of missed opportunities seemed to break up coach Dick Lukkien’s team, but thanks to a wonderful goal from Laros Duarte, FC Groningen triumphed 2-1.

It was on August 21 of this year that it became clear that the wound of relegation was far from healed. FC Groningen lost the second league match of the season in the Galgenwaard 1-0 on Monday evening to Jong FC Utrecht, the bottom of the Kitchen Champion Division from a year earlier. After that embarrassing display, a condemning ‘shame on you’ came from the stands of the well-filled visitors’ section.

The wound continued to fester after that defeat in Utrecht. A series of disappointing results followed and the grumpy surrounding the club increased. This led to two commissioners leaving and general manager Wouter Gudde deciding to call it quits after this season. After that – and not necessarily because of that – FC Groningen slowly got color on their cheeks.

Trainer Dick Lukkien made some changes to his starting eleven after the series of lousy results. Hidde Jurjus replaced the shooting Michael Verrips under the crossbar and Kevin van Veen, the man of the promised thirty goals, lost his place as attack leader. The game gradually improved and FC Groningen slowly climbed the rankings.

No scoring ability

In particular, the input of young talents from their own youth academy gave FC Groningen more energy. Yet there is still plenty to criticize about FC Groningen’s play. Finishing opportunities remains a concern. With Romano Postema and Thom van Bergen, there may be two players in the vanguard who bring more energy and understand Lukkien’s plan better than Van Veen, but the duo is not overflowing with quality and they have not proven to be pure finishers this season either. .

That problem made itself felt again on Friday evening against Jong FC Utrecht. Groningen piled up chance after chance before halftime, but long-range shots from Laros Duarte and countless efforts from Postema, but Van Bergen in particular, more often disappeared wide or over the goal than between the posts. If he did manage to make an attempt on goal, Jong FC Utrecht goalkeeper Calvin Raatsie did not have to make an excessive effort to make the save.

More effective Utrecht

Jong FC Utrecht was hardly involved at the other end, but proved effective before half time. Seven minutes before tea, FC Groningen defender Marvin Peersman intervened weakly on a poor back pass from Laros Duarte. Utrecht attacker Mees Akkerman rushed off, kept an overview and enabled Jesse van de Haar to score.

Wonderful goal

After the break, FC Groningen retained the dominance, but the team initially did not create any major opportunities. After an hour of play, Duarte came to the rescue of his failing strikers by curling a free kick from an incredibly difficult angle in an unparalleled way via the inside of the far intersection. A goal that was reminiscent of Lasse Schöne’s at the Bernabeu, although Duarte’s was of even greater beauty.

Duarte’s painting gave FC Groningen and the fans in the stands new energy and ten minutes after the equalizer it resulted in Postema’s 2-1. The striker neatly pushed the ball into the far corner. The lead was definitely deserved, but the many misses kept it exciting. Mees Rijks, the match winner on August 21, was close to the equalizer, but his effort went wide. Jorg Schreuders was given a huge opportunity by goalkeeper Raatsie, but the closing post corrected his blunder.

Wish list

With the victory, FC Groningen goes into the winter break with a smile. Although the much-desired and much-needed promotion seemed out of sight early in this season, second place now shines on the horizon. In order to actually fulfill that dream, the team will have to be more careful with the opportunities. Lukkien has already indicated that he only has anything to wish for this winter if players leave – only then will there be money – but a striker who understands him and can score goals is undoubtedly at the top of his wish list.

FC Groningen-Jong FC Utrecht 2-1

Score progression: 38. Van de Haar 0-1, 61. Duarte 1-1, 71. Postema 2-1

Yellow card: Leliendal, Kooy, El Arguioui (Jong FC Utrecht)

Referee: Wiersma

Spectators: 18,698

Fc Groningen: Jurjus; Bacuna, Rente, Peersman and Määttä (59. Bakker); Schreuders, Duarte, Pelupessy (59. De Jonge) and Valente (84. Turay); Van Bergen (84. Slor) and Postema

Young FC Utrecht: Raatsie; Van Hees, Kooy, Mukeh and Held; Van der Wegen (78. Schlichting), Yah (46. Bakula) and Leliendal (84. Edhart); Akkerman (78. El Arguioui), Van de Haar (64. Rijks) and Blake (64. Augustinus-Jensen)


Jurjus 6

Bacuna 5

Interest 6.5

Peersman 5.5

Määttä 5.5

Schreuders 6

Pelupessy 5.5

Duarte 7.5

Valentine 5.5

Van Bergen 4.5

Postema 6

The Young 6

Baker 6

Trainer Lukkien 6

Team performance 6

Referee Wiersma 5