The ball in the net, a grin on his face. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck decided the match by scoring Utrecht’s fourth from close range against goalless NAC Breda barely 15 minutes after the break. Two index fingers pointed to the heavens, his team mates surrounded him, and euphoria broke out among the travelling supporters. The 415 Utrecht supporters knew what 18,198 Breda fans had long seen coming: the game was over. The points were going to Utrecht.
And it was deserved. Utrecht were a class better than the bottom club. NAC Breda didn’t get into their rhythm at any point in the game. The ball possession midway through the first half spoke volumes: 20% for NAC Breda, 80% for FC Utrecht. In the second quarter of the match Utrecht succeeded in doing twice what they had failed to do in the first quarter: scoring. They eased ahead of the nervous Brabanders with two goals.
Two goals in the first half
Bahebeck also got the first goal in Breda, scoring from a corner from fellow Frenchman Nicolas Gavory. The striker steered the ball calmly into the far corner out of reach of Benjamin van Leer. Ten minutes later, on the stroke of half time, Van Leer had to pick the ball out of the net again after Simon Gustafson cool-bloodedly converted a penalty: 2-0. It was Gustafson’s fourth successive away goal for Utrecht. An achievement he shares with only Leo van Veen (1978), Michael Mols (1996) and Alexander Gerndt (2012).
That penalty also shot Gustafson into another record book. It was the Swede’s sixth Eredivisie penalty this season. It’s a record the club’s current top scorer holds with Dirk Kuyt (2002/2003), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (2010/2011) and Sébastien Haller (2015/2016).
That penalty was a painful blow to NAC Breda. The goal that Willem Janssen scored ten minutes after the break hurt the team in yellow and black just as much. The Utrecht captain won in the air against NAC captain Menno Koch to head home a Gavory corner: 3-0. Game over, you might say. Bahebeck’s 4-0 four minutes later with barely an hour on the clock in the Rat Verlegh Stadium removed all doubt. Game over!
Four goal difference
It is the first time in Utrecht’s history that it has won two successive away games with a four goal margin. The four against NAC Breda follow Utrecht’s convincing victory in Overijssel against Heracles Almelo, who lost 5-1 on their own artificial pitch.
International break then Feyenoord at home
The Eredivisie takes a break for international fixtures next week. FC Utrecht will be back in action on 31 March, when Dick Advocaat’s team take on Feyenoord at home. The match kicks off at 14.30 in the Galgenwaard. Tickets are already on sale.
NAC Breda - FC Utrecht 0-4 (0-2)
34. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck 0-1
44. Simon Gustafson (penalty) 0-2
54. Willem Janssen 0-3
58. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck 0-4
Yellow cards: Erik Palmer-Brown, Menno Koch (NAC Breda), Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (FC Utrecht).
Referee: Jochem Kamphuis.
NAC Breda line-up:
Benjamin van Leer; Pele van Anholt, Menno Koch, Dorian Dervite (46. Mounir El Allouchi), Erik Palmer-Brown, Alex Gersbach; Ramon Lundqvist, Gianluca Nijholt, Mikhail Rosheuvel (80. Gervane Kastaneer), Paolo Fernandes (75. Anouar Kali); Mitchell te Vrede.
FC Utrecht line-up:
David Jensen; Sean Klaiber, Willem Janssen, Timo Letschert, Nicolas Gavory; Joris van Overeem, Riechedly Bazoer, Simon Gustafson (79. Rico Strieder), Sander van de Streek; Gyrano Kerk (79. Othmane Boussaid), Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (71. Lukas Görtler).