NAC coach Robert Maaskant was left to celebrate "a major prize" after a 2-0 success at FC Groningen on Sunday earned his team the Eredivisie's final qualification berth for next season's inaugural UEFA Europa League.
The first leg ended 1-1 in Breda on Thursday, and there was little to choose between the sides for much of the match in the Euroborg either. Marcus Berg found NAC keeper Jelle ten Rouwelaar in his way, while Jonas Kolkka hit the crossbar with a volley at the other end before Maaskant's charges took the lead after the hour through Matthew Amoah's header. Csaba Fehér added the late second.
"This feels like a major prize," said Maaskant. "We were eager to qualify for the Europa League and now we have succeeded in doing so. The only problem might be starting on 16 July. The difference between us and Groningen was minimal, only we looked a bit fitter. We played Rosenborg in July in the Intertoto Cup, so it does not have to be a disadvantage that we have to start so early again."
The European tickets have now been divided out in the Netherlands. Champions AZ Alkmaar go into the UEFA Champions League group stage, while second-placed FC Twente start in the third qualifying round. AFC Ajax and Cup winners SC Heerenveen start in the UEFA Europa League play-off round while PSV Eindhoven, who finished fourth, start in the third qualifying round with NAC commencing a stage earlier.
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