Dutch Eredivisie Qualification (Semi-final): Akujobi’s Almere City battle to a draw at Venlo

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Almere City FC continued their impressive march towards Eredivisie’s dream debut after they secured a surprise 1-1 draw at VVV Venlo in the first leg of the semi final playoff despite ending the game with 10 players.

Almere City, with the Nigerian Hamdi Akujobi playing another pivotal role endured a frustrating night to record a famous draw and requiring a win by any margin on Saturday at home to book a playoff final ticket.

Venlo had won the last two games between both teams during the just concluded regular season scoring six goals and conceding just one. They started with that template after taking the lead in the seventh minute through Mitchell Van Rooijen but the visitors inspired by one of the heroes of the 3-1 home win over FC Eindhoven last week, Anthony Limbombe scored again in the 29th minute to draw the visitors level.

It was 1-1 at halftime and Venlo who has had Nigerian players like Michael Uchebo, Alex Nkume and Ahmed Musa on their payroll previously turned on the heat in the second half with the hope of getting a few more goals to put the game to bed. But Akujobi and his teammates stood their ground to keep the game at 1-1.

It came from bad to worse for Almere City when Danny Post was red carded in the 70th minute over a professional foul but they were still unyielding and held on to finish the tie with a goal apiece ahead of the return leg in Almere on Saturday afternoon.

Akujobi who featured in his 37th game of the season bagged a yellow card in the 95th minute to ensure that Venlo does not get a second goal. It was his fourth booking of the season and the first since March 31st when he got a yellow card at Heracles Almero. He has five goals.

Almere City have a lot to play for when the return leg holds this Saturday at home with a win taking them to historic playoff final.

Action shifts to Breda tonight when NAC Breda host Emmen FC in the first leg of their semi final affair. The winner of this fixture will face the winner of Almere City/Venlo tie.

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