Goodwin saves Sparta Rotterdam from relegation dogfight

The Australian came off the bench and played a role in three goals to end his first season in Europe on a high

Socceroos winger Craig Goodwin has saved Sparta Rotterdam from relegation on the final day of the Dutch Eredivisie season.

As fellow Australian Brad Jones was helping Feyenoord to the league title back in Rotterdam, Goodwin was introduced at half-time on Sunday and ensured the Netherlands' second-largest city will have three clubs in the top tier next season.

The former Adelaide United flyer's free-kick set up striker Martin Pusic to open the scoring after 57 minutes, but the hosts pegged back an equaliser with less than 20 minutes to go.

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Sparta went ahead when Pusic netted his second in the 80th minute, with Goodwin providing the cross from the left.

Then the 25-year-old drilled a free-kick under the wall and into the net to notch his fourth goal of the Eredivisie campaign and secure Sparta's top-flight survival.

Another Australian - midfielder Kenny Dougall - was also a late substitute for Sparta.

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The win sees Sparta finish one place above the relegation play-off spots and potential demotion to the second tier of Dutch football, thanks to a superior goal difference compared to NEC Nijmegen where Goodwin's former team-mate Stefan Mauk is based.

Goodwin made 27 appearances, including 12 starts, in his first Eredivisie season, while he notched four goals and four assists.