Labyad putting in the hours to rebuild his career

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Once hailed as the next superstar of Dutch football, Zakaria Labyad has quietly been rebuilding his faltering career at hometown club FC Utrecht.

After opening the scoring 37 seconds into the game against Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday, the 24-year-old midfielder went on to notch a brace with a spectacular free-kick in the second half, as Erik ten Hag's side recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory.

Seven goals and four assists in 12 league outings this season has seen Zakaria shoot into the spotlight once again where he was six seasons ago with the world at his feet.

Playing alongside Kevin Strootman, Georginio Wijnaldum, Dries Mertens, Jermain Lens and Ola Toivonen, he finished the season with 12 goals and 16 assists as an 18-year-old for PSV, before joining Sporting CP on a free transfer in controversial fashion.

However, Zakaria's five-year stay in Portugal proved to be the detriment of his career as he featured only 23 times for the club before loan stints with Vitesse and Fulham.

Now back in the Eredivisie, the Morocco international is revelling in his key role with fifth-placed Utrecht.

"I am in form but I receive a lot of support from my team-mates and I am grateful for that. There is good communication in our team," he told reporters after the weekend's win.

"With my free-kick, I initially wanted to lay the ball off for my team-mate. But I decided to shoot because I felt that we were playing at a too low tempo in order to go 2-1 up.

"I practice a lot of free-kicks with team-mates and that pays dividends."

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