AMSTERDAM – First-half injury sub Juan Agudelo wasted little time helping FC Utrecht clinch Eredivisie survival, striking the 2-1 winner over visiting Heracles mere moment after his Sunday afternoon entrance (WATCH IT HERE).
Four minutes after coming on for Cedric van der Gun in the 36th minute, the Stoke City loan forward nodded home his team's second from a Jens Toornstra free kick for his second goal of the season. Agudelo eventually completed a good all-around shift that included four fouls won and a fair penalty shout late in the contest that fell on deaf referee ears. The win, Utrecht's third in four undefeated games at the Galgenwaard, bumped them up two places to 11th.
Around the Dutch league, Aron Jóhannsson earned the penalty kick for AZ Alkmaar's opener, but departed before the hosts leaked late to settle for a 1-1 draw with NEC Nijmegen.
Near the hour mark of a relatively quiet 68-minute showing, the Alabama-born forward picked the ball out of a doorstep scramble to have his shot blocked by the hand of NEC defender Lasse Nielsen. Having missed two straight, Jóhannsson was replaced on the spot by Nemanja Gudelj, who dutifully put AZ ahead until conceding the 87th minute equalizer. Though still unbeaten at home in seven league games, the eighth-place Cheese Farmers failed for the time being to punch their ticket to the postseason Europa league playoff.
Next door in the Bundesliga, Fabian Johnson had a solid outing as Hoffenheim kept their slim Europa League hopes alive with a 2-0 blanking of guests Augsburg.
With club and country mate Joseph Gyau dressed on the bench for the first time this season, Johnson, who enjoyed a good evening of moving into attack, could have notched an early assist with a better finish from Hoffenheim top scorer Roberto Firmino. Nevertheless, the ninth-place hosts won for the third time in a five-match unbeaten streak.
Over in France, Alejandro Bedoya put in an active showing as Nantes moved closer to clinching Ligue 1 safety with a 1-0 victory over guests Guingamp.
Stationed in the playmaking role, Bedoya played a healthy role in the attack that saw Serge Gapke bag the game's only goal. Far from done, the New Jersey native turned up all over the field, going close to a goal three times and providing a hatful of defensive plays as the Canaries closed out the win. Now unbeaten in four at home, 12th-place Nantes climbed to 10 points above the danger line with five games remaining.
Turning to Norway, Bob Bradley suffered his first Tippeligaen setback as Stabæk were knocked off the summit by a 2-0 home defeat against Molde FK.
Michael Stephens worked 82 lukewarm minutes in central midfield for the former USMNT boss, leaving with the Blues Ones still trailing by one. The result doomed Stabæk to their first loss in nine at home, dating back to their run in the second division last season.
With young American Ethan Horvath serving as back-up netminder, Molde moved into the league penthouse ahead of Stabæk on goal differential.
Also, Mikkel Diskerud came on for the final 40 minutes to help Rosenborg post their first win of the young season, 2-0 over visiting Odds BK. Still unbeaten through three rounds, the Troll Kids moved up to fifth place.
Greg Seltzer covers Americans based in Europe for MLSsoccer.com.