Canadian Exports: Atiba Hutchinson, PSV fall, but others chase promotion across Europe
After being the frontrunners in the Eredivisie for most of the season, PSV Eindhoven and Atiba Hutchinson all of a sudden find themselves in the chasing pack.
With just a two-point lead in the table over Ajax heading into the weekend, PSV lost for the second time in three games by dropping a 2-1 game to Heerenveen last Friday, with Hutchinson starting and going 82 minutes. And not only did Ajax win to move ahead of PSV by one point, but Feyenoord’s third win in a row moved them into a tie for second.
In Germany, FC Köln and defender Kevin McKenna are tantalizingly close to promotion back to the Bundesliga as their unbeaten streak reached 13 games over the weekend. McKenna played his usual 90 minutes as Köln beat Paderborn 3-0 and are now just a point back of Kaiserslautern, who hold down third place in the 2.Bundesliga and a promotion playoff spot.
Just three points back of Köln with 37 points are 1860 Munich, featuring striker Rob Friend. The big striker played all 90 minutes as Munich beat Sandhausen 1-0 for their second win in three games to pull to sixth place.
With just one point in four games, Julian de Guzman and Jahn Regensburg are now four points adrift of the next closest team at the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga standings. De Guzman played the whole game on Friday as Regensburg lost 3-2 to St. Pauli and stayed on a woeful 17 points from 25 games this season.
Down in the 3.Liga, it’s back-to-back wins and a three-game unbeaten streak for Adam Straith and FC Saarbrücken. Straith come on as a very late substitute in their 3-0 win over Stuttgarter Kickers, lifting the west German side into 12th place in the 20-team league.
In England, the promotion dream for Iain Hume and Doncaster Rovers continues to look more of a reality as they picked up their third win in four games on Saturday. Often a starter, Hume came on in the 88th minute as Doncaster beat AFC Bournemouth 2-1 to give themselves a three-point cushion and game in hand over Sheffield United, who dropped points in their game.
Further down the standings, Marcus Haber and Stevenage have seen their position slip over the past few weeks, as they have just one win in their last nine league games. Haber played 58 minutes on Saturday as Stevenage lost 2-0 to Preston North End and also got the start and lasted 90 minutes on Tuesday in their 1-0 loss to AFC Bournemouth. They've fallen from the promotion picture earlier in the season to just 16th place.
Up in the Championship, the bid for Burnley and David Edgar to get into the promotion fight took another hit this past Saturday as they lost 1-0 to Hull City. The defender started and lasted 63 minutes as Burnley fell to 11th place and now sit nine points back of sixth-place Nottingham Forest, who hold down the final promotion playoff spot.
Further north in Scotland, it may have just been a cameo for Andre Hainault, but it was a memorable apperance nonetheless. The former Houston Dynamo man came on for Ross County in the 86th minute on Saturday and not long after, his club went onto score a winner as they shocked giants Celtic 3-2 and moved up into third place in the Scottish Premier League standings.
Across Europe in Turkey, Milan Borjan got a little offensive support from his Sivasspor teammates for the first time in four league games and his team won as a result. After a trio of 1-0 losses in the Süper Lig in recent weeks, Sivasspor finally scored two goals in a 2-1 win over Antalyaspor for their first league win in exactly a month. Sivasspor are now in 10th place on 32 points in the table.
It’s now six games unbeaten for defender Mike Klukowski and APOEL in Cyprus and that run of form has taken them to the top of the 1. Division. Klukowski most recently played the full 90 minutes on Saturday in APOEL’s 2-0 win over AEL Larnaca. The win combined with former top team Anothorsis’ tie meant APOEL vaulted ahead by a single point with 60 points compared to Anothorsis’ 59.
At the other end of the table, Issey Nakajima-Farran and Alki picked up a much-needed three points. Nakajima-Farran played 60 minutes in Alki’s 1-0 win over Nea Salamis on Saturday and put a little breathing space between them and automatic relegation. They will still likely have to fight for their lives in the league’s relegation round.
In Portugal, Pedro Pacheco and Santa Clara are making a real case for promotion from the Liga de Honra to the top-flight Primeira Liga. The Portuguese-born, Canadian-bred Pacheco played all 90 minutes on Sunday as the Azorean side beat Sporting CP II 3-1 on the road to move into fifth place.
Just the top two teams get promoted from the second division and Santa Clara’s win not only knocked Sporting's reserve side out of second, but also moved them four points back of Arouca, who now sit in the second spot.
In Slovenia, Stefan Cebara came on as a halftime substitute on Saturday for NK Celje in their 4-0 win over Mura 05. Celje have a pair of wins and a pair of draws on their current four-game unbeaten run and are in fifth place in the 10-team 1. SNL standings.
In Uruguay, Lucas Cavallini scored his first goal of the Clausura season for Juventud de las Piedras on Sunday, opening the scoring in the 55th minute of Juventud’s 4-1 win over Cerro. It was Juventud’s first win in two games this season.