Venlo take charge in play-off
Danny Holla scored a late winner as VVV-Venlo took charge of their Eredivisie play-off against Helmond Sport with a narrow victory in the first leg.
VVV, looking to retain their place in the top flight against a Helmond side hoping to earn promotion, went behind when Youssef Koubali broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Ismo Vorstermans levelled things with his 73rd-minute effort, paving the way for Holla to snatch the win three minutes from time.
Helmond had the first chance in the ninth minute when Erik Quekel shot wastefully at Dennis Gentenaar. Holla almost put VVV ahead three minutes later when his curling cross skated off the crossbar without taking a touch.
Moments later they hit the woodwork again, Barry McGuire's shot taking a deflection before hitting the post. Helmond goalkeeper Bjorn Sengier made a fine save five minutes from time when Michael Uchebo went clear and the sides went in goalless.
The stalemate continued until just before the hour when Koubali surprisingly gave the hosts the lead, collecting Sebastian Stachnik's pass and drilling into the left corner. With 69 minutes gone it could have been 2-0 following an error by Jeffrey Leiwakabessy, but Stachnik could not convert the chance.
VVV equalised soon after, Vorstermans heading home from close range from Holla's cross. That galvanised the away team, who struck the crossbar again through Steven Berghuis with six minutes remaining.
The winner did arrive before the end, Holla in the right place to pick up a deflected ball and finishing from 18 yards.