The twenty third round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Parkstad Limburg Stadion where hosts Roda JC picked up just their third win of what has been a tumultuous campaign thus far at the expense of fellow strugglers, Go Ahead Eagles.

However, the result hardly reflected the game with the away side- who arrived in Kerkrade for this relegation six-pointer on the back of two straight victories and two points ahead of their hosts in the standings, squandering a host of chances during a goalless first half.

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Following the interval it was more of the same – Brighton loanee, Elvis Manu seeing his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Ard van Peppen two minutes into the second half, as the away side pressed for a third win in as many games – looking to put daylight between themselves and the bottom three for the first time since early October.

Hans de Koning’s side should have taken the lead just short of the hour mark through last week’s two-goal hero, Sam Hendriks, but the 22-year-old somehow contrived to fluff his lines despite being mere inches from the line with an unguarded goal at his mercy after a penetrating run by Arsenal loanee, Daniel Crowley down the left had put the chance on a plate for the former Ajax forward.

Hendriks’ remarkable miss proved to be the turning point of the game as ten minutes later a Mitchel Paulissen free kick from the left was met sweetly on the volley by an unmarked Chris Kum who – having seen an earlier effort ruled out for offside, escaped the attentions of the visitor’s rear guard and rifled the ball past Theo Zwarthoed from close range to give the hosts an ultimately decisive advantage which lifted Yannis Anastasiou’s men over their visitors and out of the bottom three ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at De Grolsch Veste where hosts, FC Twente welcomed the news that their long term financial future had been secured by inflicting a fifth defeat in six matches on guests, Heerenveen.

Having already saved the club from bankruptcy thanks to an earlier loan of €17 million, Enschede council once more came to the rescue of the financially troubled club by voting on Thursday to lend the club an additional €8.4 million which, along with the earlier loan, will be repaid over the course of the next 30 years – allowing the club to begin to repay some of the sizeable debts they owe.

Following a goalless opening period, the hosts would receive another gift eight minutes after the restart when Manchester City loanee, Enes Unal was sent tumbling in the box by visiting ‘keeper, Erwin Mulder – leaving referee, Serdar Gozubuyuk to point to the spot. Despite replays later suggesting that there had been little contact on the Turkish marksman the decision stood and Polish international, Mateusz Klich made no mistake from the resultant spot kick – sending Mulder – who, given the ruling, had been lucky to remain on the field, the wrong way to put the home side into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Elsewhere, things continue to look bleak for Excelsior after Mitchell van der Gaag’s undermanned side were hit for four in Almelo at the hands of Heracles.

The visitors arrived at the Polman Stadion on a wretched run of form that had seen the Rotterdam-based outfit take just six points from their last ten outings.

Having failed to win a game since mid-November, the visitor’s cause was hardly helped by the 34th minute dismissal of Jurgen Mattheij – who received his marching orders from referee, Siemen Mulder after picking up his second booking in the space of seven minutes following a trip on Samuel Armenteros just outside the visitor’s area.

Having been reduced to ten men, the luckless visitor’s then had their misery compounded when Brandley Kuwas handed the hosts the lead eight minutes later – the 24-year-old converting from close range after the ball had cannoned back off Warner Hahn’s crossbar.

Things went from bad to worse for van der Gaag’s charges following the interval – Thomas Bruns converting a well-placed cut-back from Peter van Ooijen to double the host’s advantage just short of the hour mark.

Eight minutes later two became three as Mike te Wierik – having evaded the non-existent Excelsior marking, slammed the ball past Hahn from a narrow angle after being picked out by a well-weighted pass from goal-scorer, Bruns before a Kristoffer Peterson header completed the rout six minutes from time.

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PSV Eindhoven kept their title hopes alive – making it six wins from six since the turn of the year by seeing off NEC Nijmegen at the Philips Stadion on Saturday evening.

After a fairly unremarkable opening 19 minutes, Steven Bergwijn cut inside from the right and was sent tumbling in the area under the attentions of Janio Bikel leaving referee, Jochem Kamphuis little choice but to point to the spot from which Chelsea loanee, Marco van Ginkel made no mistake – firing the ball past the despairing dive of visiting ‘keeper, Joris Delle.

However, Peter Hyballa’s side – who arrived in Eindhoven on the back of three straight defeats, were back on level terms on the half hour – Ali Messaoud slamming home a perfectly placed cross from Andre Fomitschow from just inside the area.

Despite the setback, Phillip Cocu’s men would retake the lead ten minutes after the break through a scrambled effort from Bart Ramselaar who forced the ball home at the second time of asking after initially being denied by a combination of Delle and Michael Heinloth.

After Hector Moreno had rattled Delle’s crossbar deep into added time, the home side did eventually add a third – Luuk de Jong tucking away a pinpoint Santiago Arias cross from the right in the 94th minute.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the Stadion Galgenwaard where hosts, FC Utrecht ended PEC Zwolle’s recent revival.

Ron Jans’ side came into this encounter having put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three after posting three wins from their last four outings but were second best here – the home side capping a dominant first half display by taking the lead through the unlucky Bram van Polen, who in an effort to ward off the attentions of Gyrano Kerk, unwittingly put the ball past his own keeper to hand the hosts the advantage a minute before the break.

Kerk’s inclusion by coach, Erik ten Hag – who omitted Ajax loanee, Richairo Zivkovic to accommodate the 21-year-old in the starting eleven, was justified four minutes after the resumption when, having been denied a goal a minute before the half time interval, the young forward stabbed home a Sean Klaiber cross from close range to double the host’s advantage.

Nacer Barazite had also been surprisingly omitted from the starting line-up named by ten Hag ahead of this encounter, but the former Arsenal man sent a message to his coach by coming off the bench and adding the home side’s third of the evening ten minutes from time.

Despite having been comprehensively out-played in all departments, Ron Jans’ side did eventually get on the scoresheet – Birmingham City loanee, Nicolai Brock-Madsen capping off the visitor’s only real attack of note by looping the ball over the despairing dive of home keeper, David Jensen four minutes from time.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway in Tilburg where a sluggish AZ Alkmaar were surprisingly held by Willem II.

Despite seeing their chances of progression into the round of 16 of this season’s UEFA Europa League effectively come to an end after being hit for four at home to Lyon on Thursday evening, John van den Brom’s men looked to have secured all three points at the Koning Willem II Stadion when Derrick Luckassen put the visitors into the ascendancy with nineteen minutes to play – the centre half heading home an Iliass Bel Hassani corner from close range in the 71st minute.

However, the exertions of Thursday evening’s tie eventually told. With the visitor’s concentration lapsing, Erik Falkenberg salvaged a valuable point for Erwin van de Looi’s men – the 28-year-old beating Tim Krul to Waford loanee, Obbi Oulare’s flick-on two minutes into added time.

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Elsewhere, the Netherlands’ only other representative left in continental competition this season – Ajax, kept up the pressure on league leaders, Feyenoord by temporarily closing the gap at the top of the table to just two points by virtue of a narrow win in Arnhem.

Having been held controversially scoreless in Warsaw in the 1st leg of their round of 32 UEFA Europa League tie against Legia on Thursday evening, Peter Bosz’s men wasted little time asserting their authority over a Vitesse Arnhem side who came into their second home fixture on the bounce on the back of a surprise reversal at the hands of Willem II and it was the man whose goal was controversially ruled out in Poland due to a lack of goal-line technology – Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen, whose 26th minute strike ultimately secured all three points for the visitors.

Klaassen’s goal stood despite the vehement protestations of the hosts who believed that Hakim Ziyech had brought down Milot Rashica at the other end of the field just seconds before Amin Younes teed up his skipper to put the title-chasing visitors into the ascendency.

The visitors almost doubled their advantage in the strangest of ways when a miss-hit cross from centre half, Nick Viergever rattled Eloy Room’s crossbar just past the half hour mark.

Having waved away the home side’s appeals for a penalty five minutes into the second period when Ajax’s Colombian centre half,  Davinson Sanchez sent Ricky van Wolfswinkel tumbling in the visitor’s area, referee, Kevin Blom then further drew the ire of the home supporters by awarding a spot kick at the other end after substitute, Navarone Foor pulled back Ziyech in the host’s area following a quick free kick by Lasse Schone with fourteen minutes to play. Yet Klaassen failed to double the visitor’s advantage – the Dutch international seeing his spot-kick beaten away by Room to leave the result in doubt until the very end.

Despite having a cup semi-final to look forward to at the start of March, a run of ten Eredivisie games without a win had seen Sparta Rotterdam slide into the bottom three prior to the host’s encounter with Groningen on Sunday afternoon.

Things hadn’t been much better for their visitors, who, following a mid-season revival which had seen them climb away from the wrong end of the table, Ernest Faber’s men arrived at Het Kasteel winless in their last four outings and seemed set to extend that unwanted run when Paco van Moorsel put Alex Pastoor’s strugglers into an eighth minute lead – the 27-year-old beating visiting ‘keeper, Sergio Padt from close range following a goal-mouth scramble before Ivan Calero doubled the host’s advantage nine minutes later.

However, a much needed first league win since early November ultimately proved elusive for Pastoor’s men who allowed their guests back into the contest just four minutes later – Ruben Jenssen slamming the ball past Roy Kortsmit after the Sparta ‘keeper had initially denied a suspiciously offside looking Simon Tibbling.

Remarkably, the two sides would go in at the break on level terms – Mimoun Mahi lashing in his tenth of the season via Kortsmit’s right hand upright from the edge of the area a minute before the break.

Even with the visitors reduced to ten men following the 52nd minute dismissal of Juninho Bacuna – who, having been dismissed during last weekend’s defeat at the hands of league leaders, Feyenoord, received his marching orders for the second game in succession from referee, Allard Lindhout following a reckless two-footed lunge on Mart Dijkstra, Pastoor’s men failed to turn their numerical advantage into three points but – by virtue of the draw, did edge out of the bottom three at the expense of Go Ahead Eagles.

The twenty third round of Eredivisie action was concluded in The Hague where league leaders Feyenoord restored their five point cushion at the top of the standings after squeezing past rock-bottom, ADO Den Haag at the Kyocera Stadion.

Having ushered in the Alfons Groenendijk era in inauspicious fashion – suffering a comprehensive defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers, Go Ahead Eagles last time out – a reversal which had seen ADO slide to the bottom of the pile in the Dutch top flight as a result, the hosts looked far more resolute here – keeping the free-scoring league leaders scoreless during a largely uneventful opening period.

However, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side – whose only league defeat this season came at the hands of the lowly Deventer-based outfit at the start of November and who have yet to drop a single point since the turn of the year, maintained their 100% start to 2017 in the league thanks to a solitary strike by Karim El Ahmadi just after the hour mark – the Moroccan latching onto Miquel Nelom’s deflected cross from the left before crashing the ball past ADO’s back-up ‘keeper, Robert Zwinkels from just outside the box to keep the Rotterdam giants on course for a first Eredivisie title since 1999.

Having set up what would ultimately prove to be the only goal of a tight affair, Nelom then appeared to get away with what looked to be a clear clip on the heels of ex-Feyenoord man , Ruben Schaken with just over a quarter of an hour left to play.

However, despite substitute, Mike Havenaar testing the reflexes of Feyenoord’s Australian ‘keeper, Brad Jones on a couple of occasions in the closing stages, the visitors held on to restore their five point advantage over nearest challenger’s, Ajax ahead of entertaining third placed, PSV Eindhoven – who themselves sit a further three points adrift in the standings, in what will prove to be a real test of both side’s title credentials next Sunday afternoon at De Kuip in the stand-out fixture of round 24.

Results: Week 23

Roda JC 1-0 Go Ahead Eagles

FC Twente 1-0 SC Heerenveen

Heracles 4-0 Excelsior

PSV Eindhoven 3-1 NEC Nijmegen

FC Utrecht 3-1 PEC Zwolle

Willem II 1-1 AZ Alkmaar

Vitesse Arnhem 0-1 AFC Ajax

Sparta Rotterdam 2-2 FC Groningen

ADO Den Haag 0-1 Feyenoord



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