Judging by the score line of 2-0 ADO did a good job beating Lithuanian side FK Tauras, admittedly of a lower standard, to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League. But the performance to go along with it was rather flat, with ADO only taking full advantage of their superior playing qualities in the second half, when the pressure on their opponents was significantly increased.
Manager Maurice Steijn made two changes compared to last week’s line-up. The first one was a forced change, as newly acquired left-back Luksik was suspended after his direct red card. Steijn shifted Christian Kum to the left-back spot, moving Ramon Leeuwin back into central defense, much like he did during the previous match to compensate for Luksik’s dismissal. In midfield Tjaronn Chery, a substitute in the previous match, played beside Jens Toornstra.
The second change wasn’t forced by last week’s game, but it was definitely related to it. Tauras played a compact formation that effectively doubled up on ADO’s wingers and succeeded in frustrating ADO’s desired wide winger game with it. Partly as a result of this, Charlton Vicento played a disappointing game and didn’t start this game. Another new acquisition did, as winger Marc Höcher, more technically skilled than Vicento, but less athletic, started on the left wing.
Tauras’ optimistic 4-2-3-1
The obvious disadvantage of formational notations is that they hardly cover the subtle difference that might exist between them and in fact, Tauras’ formation wasn’t all that different compared to last week’s 4-4-1-1 that they played for the best part of the game. With both wingers pushed up just a bit more in possession a 4-2-3-1 seemed the most accurate description of their formation.
The first half
Apart from an early minutes chance for striker Lex Immers, the match gradually turned into a disappointing affair for ADO. Fans had come to the stadium with high hopes to see their team walk over an underestimated opponent and a few early whistles were to be heard.
Tactically spoken, ADO left quite some space between their back four and the front three. Their narrow midfield three, with Aleksandr Radosavljevic in his usual conservative role in close proximity to the central defenders, had a tough time covering this much space. Tauras, on the other hand, crowded this space with their midfield three and added the defensive efforts of their wingers too. As a result, ADO frequently lost possession even before reaching either of their wingers.
ADO’s ineffective crosses
The mainstay of ADO’s game in their successful previous season had been their wide winger crossing game. Both Verhoek and Kubik (now departed to Russian side Kuban) connected very well with target man Bulykin, resulting in the Russian striker’s second place in the top scoring charts.
With Immers playing the striker role now that Bulykin’s loan contract could not be renegotiated, ADO will have to fine tune that aspect of their game. Immers does not possess the physical qualities that Bulykin displayed over the past season and needs more support upon incoming crosses.
In that regard Ado fell a bit short during the first half. Immers regularly was the only ADO player in the box when Höcher and mainly Verhoek delivered their crosses. During the second half ADO fixed this issue and significantly increased the effectiveness of their crosses. Overall, the rate of 4 shots on target out of 15 attempts illustrated the lack of quality in ADO’s finishing game.
The opening goal
Often regarded as an ideal timing to score a goal, ADO opened the score on the brink of half time. Assisted by Tauras’ goal keeper Borysenko, who dropped an out-swinging Verhoek cross and provide Jens Toornstra with the easiest of opportunities.
The second half
During the half-time break Steijn seemed to have addressed the first half issues. ADO’s defensive line played at least twenty yards further up the pitch, thereby reducing the amount of space in front of them and providing the required support for central midfielders Toornstra and Chery. The two of them, in return, were again able to support Immers in dealing with the incoming crosses and ADO’s game was a world of difference compared to the first half.
In truth, with Tauras needing at least three goal to qualify for the next round, the outcome of the tie had pretty much settled with Toornstra’s opening goal. Tauras seemed reluctant to chase an equalizer, knowing that ADO would take advantage of any space in behind their defensive line. Their sparse moment of counter attacks now began from a much deeper position and their counter play was significantly reduced as a result.
In the end
With the best effort of the game, Tjeronn Chery introduced himself to the home crowd in Den Haag with a delicious long range effort to chip the ball over Borysenko. The 2-0 final score line pretty much justified the face of the game with ADO having made a huge improvement during the half time break.