Vitesse got back on track this week with an impressive 3-1 victory over RKC Waalwijk and finds itself only two points off the pace for a spot in the Champions League next season.
Vitesse beats RKC 3-1, Atsu scores
Peter Bosz' lineup was a bit thin on Chelsea players, as Patrick van Aanholt is serving a suspension after picking up a red card last week and Lucas Piazon was relegated to the bench for the first time in his Vitesse career. However, Christian Atsu took his usual spot as the number ten and Bertrand Traore filled in for Piazon on the left wing.
As it is wont to do, the Vitesse defence got caught out on the counter-attack in the 15th minute and Scottish youngster Kenny Anderson was able to put one past Piet Velthuizen to give RKC an early lead. Vitesse would remain down 1-0 at the half, and despite not scoring, I thought Vitesse looked much better offensively than in recent games.
In particular, Christian Atsu made some excellent passes, Vitesse took ten shots, earned five corners, and was a perfect six for six on take-ons. Bertrand Traore was three for three and looked extremely dangerous at times.
However, with his team down 1-0 and having earned a mere six points from the last six matches, Bosz, quite understandably, decided to make some sweeping changes at the half. Valeri Qazaishvili came on for Traore, leaving Atsu as the lone Chelsea player in the game.
Bosz' tactics quickly paid off, as Vitesse scored twice in the first seven minutes of the half, the with the second coming from Qazaishvili. For perspective, following Bosz' substitutions, Vitesse scored as many goals in the first seven minutes of the second half as it did in the previous five and a half games.
Atsu scored about twenty minutes later to give Vitesse a comfortable 3-1 lead and they were able to hang on for the win, despite Piazon never leaving the bench.
I was surprised to see the club get its biggest win of 2014 with only Christian Atsu playing the full ninety and completely without the services of Patrick van Aanholt and Lucas Piazon, but Vitesse has plenty of its own talented players and to be honest, I was just happy to see the club get back on track to challenge for a Champions League spot.
I'll be very interested to see if the Piazon benching was just a one-time thing with Bosz just trying to shake things up a little, and it'll be worth watching the match against Roda JC on Saturday (kickoff is a few hours after the Chelsea-Fulham game wraps up, so the match is timed perfectly for Chelsea supporters).
As in recent weeks, we have the good fortune to be able to reproduce the Vitesse portions of the excellent loan reports that @chelseayouth puts out each week (you can read the full loan report here) -
Over in the Netherlands, Atsu grabbed his third goal of the season as Vitesse ended a five-game winless skid by defeating RKC Waalwijk 3-1 at the Gelredome. It was a notable win for Peter Bosz’s side as it came without the services of Patrick van Aanholt, who was suspended, and Lucas Piazon, who was dropped to the bench.
Piazon has struggled for form since the winter break and was finally left out of the starting eleven having not contributed a single goal or assist since December. His place was taken by Bertrand Traore, although the Burkinabe winger was little better in his 45-minute outing. He had one or two sights of goal in a first half which saw Vitesse head in trailing 1-0.
It finally all came together in the second half when substitutes Valeri Qazaishvili and Renato Ibarra entered the fray and changed the match. Japanese forward Mike Havenaar equalised when finishing a cross from Van Aanholt’s left-back replacement Rochdi Achenteh, and then minutes later Qazaishvili put his team ahead with a lovely effort from the edge of the area.
Atsu sealed the win late on with a composed volley following good play by Ibarra, and it was the least the Ghanaian deserved for his performance. He played a controlled, composed game in a central area for the first half before moving to the left wing in the second, and the shift allowed him to run at his opponent and produce dangerous attacking situations.
Whenever Vitesse wins, my first thoughts after the final whistle are usually -
1) "Nice, one step closer to Champions League football"
2) "Chelsea players A and B did [amazing thing], Chelsea players C and D did [pretty good thing],"
3) [new thing I learned about non-Chelsea Vitesse players A and B]
4) "New Sfeerverslag this week!"
On Renato Ibarra
Right winger Renato Ibarra has been excellent since returning from the break and has proven everyone wrong who thought he'd quietly take a spot on the bench to make way for a Piazon-Atsu-Traore attacking band (I count myself among this group). Prior to the RKC match, Ibarra had started every match this season, and during the match, he came on at the half (when Traore was subbed off and Piazon remained on the bench) and played a big role in Vitesse turning the game around. He's not going to be a Chelsea target (the club has plenty of better and younger options at the wing / attacking midfielder position), but he has certainly made a lot of people sit up and take notice of his play.
Ibarra's contract expires at the end of the season and Vitesse would do well to re-sign him within the next month or two as he'll likely have no shortage of suitors this summer.