De Graafschap took a big step towards remaining in the Eredivisie with a 2-1 victory at Sparta Rotterdam in the first leg of their playoff final.

Sparta Rotterdam started the tie brightly and took the lead in the 8th minute when Lars Veldwijk set up Adil Auassar to find the net with a header.

It could have been 2-0 before the break but Veldwijk’s effort came back off the post.

Sparta remained dangerous after the break but they failed to find a second goal and in the 67th minute, De Graafschap silenced the crowd. Nabil Bahoui headed in on the goalline after Charlison Benschop’s cross was deflected into his path.

In the 74th minute, Sparta were reduced to ten men with Bart Vriends shown his second yellow card. The hosts were holding on for a draw but in the 93rd minute, Jordy Tutuarima was brought down and De Graafschap were awarded a penalty, which Youssef El Jebli scored.

On Tuesday the second leg takes place with De Graafschap holding the advantage as they look to remain in the Eredivisie.

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