Dennis van der Ree’s debut as Groningen head coach ended with a 1-0 loss at Excelsior Rotterdam.

Dennis van der Ree replaced the sacked Frank Wormuth during the winter break and he decided to name two young talents in his starting eleven. Thijmen Blokzijl (17) and attacker Thom van Bergen (18) were handed their first starts in the Eredivisie.

Van Bergen almost gave Groningen the lead early on but he was denied by Stijn van Gassel. Luciano Valente and Thomas Suslov also missed good chances for the visitors in the first-half.

After the break, Excelsior took control with Marouan Azarkan shooting wide, while Kenzo Goudmijn was denied by Michael Verrips. In the 69th minute, Redouan El Yaakoubi did net at the front post to put Excelsior in front.

That proved to be the only goal of the game and Excelsior begin 2023 with a win that moves them 12th, while Groningen is 15th.

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