With fifth position – which comes with a place in the Europa League – on the line over two legs, Utrecht made the perfect start with their win on Thursday.
Jan Wouters’ side started superbly, silencing the crowd at De Grolsch Veste with an early goal.
Cedric van der Gun was the scorer as he made the most of an assist from Australian Tommy Oar in the ninth minute.
Twente, who had won their last four home matches, were shocked by Utrecht’s early strike but they slowly worked themselves into the game.
They dominated possession, having 68 percent of the ball, while they also had 15 shots on goal, which was more than double Utrecht’s total of seven.
But they were unable to convert their dominance and Utrecht made them pay, as Frenchman Edouard Duplan netted in the 59th minute.
Twente continued to attack, but a double substitution from manager Michel Jansen failed to pay dividends, as Utrecht held on for a terrific victory.
Ghana’s Nana Asare was sent off in stoppage time for the winners, for a second yellow card, but Wouters’ side will have headed home far happier as they prepare to host the second leg on Sunday.