Thousands of football supporters packed into central Groningen on Sunday evening to celebrate FC Groningen’s first ever win of the KNVB Cup. Erwin van de Looi’s men defeated reigning champions PEC Zwolle in Sunday’s showdown at De Kuip in Rotterdam thanks to two goals from Albert Rusnak. The 2-0 victory over defending champions PEC Zwolle also gives the northern side automatic entry into the Europa League.
Groningen who go into the final of KNVB Cup in better form than the opponent, have remained unbeaten in the last six matches, and have proven their power from the first minute of the game.
Erwin van de Looi’s men had the better of the first half but did not make the breakthrough until just after the hour mark when Albert Rusnak fired home after good work from substitute Jarchinio Antonia. After a goalless opening period – the first time in nine years that there hadn’t been a first-half goal in the cup final – Groningen scored twice in 11 minutes through Rusnak to open up a comfortable lead.Both goals were scored by 20-year-old Albert Rusnak who joined Groningen from Manchester City earlier this season.
“This feels fantastic,” the attacker told the reporters. “This is my first year in the Netherlands, so to experience this already is unbelievable.”For me, this was the most important match in my career. We really won as a team today. How you do it does not matter – it’s all about winning.”
PEC Zwolle have plenty of dangerous players going forward, but arguably goalkeeper Warner Hahn has been their outstanding player this season. In truth, Zwolle, the reigning champions, never looked like recovering from one-goal down, let alone two, and Groningen held on quite comfortably to collect the first trophy in their 44-year history.
Groningen are the eighth different team to win the KNVB Cup in the last eight years, and their win will be celebrated for weeks in the Northern city.The last seven years has seen Feyenoord, Heerenveen, Ajax, Twente, PSV, AZ and PEC Zwolle all lift the trophy.
Zwolle were going for back-to-back victories in the cup after winning it for the first time last year, but they were unable to break down a Groningen defence that have now conceded just three goals in their last nine KNVB Beker games.
Michael de Leeuw is Groningen’s top scorer in the competition this season with seven goals, one behind tournament leader ArkaduiszMilik.