The twenty fifth round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Abe Lenstra Stadion where visitors, Go Ahead Eagles left it late to secure a priceless point in their battle to avoid the drop at the expense of hosts, Heerenveen.

Having gone six games without a win in all competitions prior to getting their push for European football back on track last time out against Roda JC, the home side exuded confidence as they dominated the opening stages and Jurgen Streppel’s men were been unlucky not to have taken the lead just past the quarter hour when Pelle van Amersfoort struck the foot of the left hand upright of visiting ‘keeper, Theo Zwarthoed’s goal having been slipped in by Real Madrid loanee, Martin Ødegaard.

However, the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal just after the half hour mark when Sam Hendriks – having initially been denied by the reflexes of home ‘keeper, Erwin Mulder, put the away side into the ascendancy at the second time of asking after being set away by a well weighted ball from marauding centre half, Sander Fischer.

Having gone in at the break a-goal-to-the-good, the away side continued to make life difficult for their high-flying hosts following the resumption until super-sub, Henk Veerman weaved his way through the visitor’s back line and slammed the ball past an exposed Zwarthoed with 65 minutes on the clock to bag his second goal in as many games having only been on the pitch for three minutes.

With the away side’s resistance seemingly broken, all three points seemed to be in the bag for Streppel’s side just five minutes later when another substitute, Luciano Slagveer slipped the ball past Zwarthoed having been picked out by a perfectly timed round-the-corner ball from Ødegaard.

Despite the relegation threatened visitors having followed back-to-back wins with back-to-back defeats in their last four outings, the game was anything but over and, with time seemingly ticking its way towards a third defeat in as many games for Hans de Koning’s men the final say would fall to another substitute.

Last season everything Leon de Kogel touched seemingly found the back of the net – his 27 goals firing the Eagles to promotion. Yet, this season has been a far different story for the Deventer-based outfit’s talismanic striker who – prior to this encounter, had failed to register a single goal this term.

However, having been introduced in the 77th minute as a final roll of the dice by de Koning who withdrew his skipper, Sander Duits in the hope of grabbing something late, de Kogel found himself in the right place at the right time to snatch a priceless point for the away side in their battle against the drop as all three replacements combined for the visitors – Sebastien Locigno – having found space down the right, whipped in a tempting ball that had Mulder flapping as Darren Maatsen’s leap did just enough to distract the home ‘keeper, allowing the ball to sail through to the waiting de Kogel who made no mistake – half volleying the ball into the back of the empty net from just outside the box a minute from time.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action got underway at De Grolsch Veste where hosts, FC Twente ended the recent resurgence of visitors, Willem II.

A win here would have propelled Erwin van de Looi’s side into unlikely contention for a place in the end-of-season UEFA Europa League playoff places. However, when visiting centre half Darryl Lachman put through his own net just short of the half hour mark the away side never really recovered.

The hosts doubled their advantage three minutes before the break – Manchester City loanee, Enes Unal slamming his twelfth of the season beyond the despairing dive of visiting ‘keeper, Kostas Lamprou from well outside the area.

Despite having fashioned nothing of note up to that point in the game, visitors did claw their way back into the contest in the 70th minute – Jordy Croux poking the ball past home glovesman, Nick Marsman from close range after the home side failed to clear a Funso Ojo corner twenty minutes from time.

Remarkably, the away side might have taken an undeserved share of the spoils had substitute, Thom Haye not seen his rasping 80th minute strike from the edge of the area cannon back off Marsman’s left hand upright.

Image result for PSV Eindhoven 4-0 Roda JC

Having seen their chances of retaining their Eredivisie crown for a third straight year go up in smoke at De Kuip last Sunday, reigning back-to-back champions, PSV Eindhoven took out their frustration by hitting struggling Roda for four at the Philips Stadion a little later on Saturday evening.

Phillip Cocu’s side came into this encounter eleven points off the pace set by league leaders, Feyenoord, but were clearly in no mood to start preparing for their holidays – Hector Moreno heading the hosts into the ascendancy in the 26th minute from a Davy Propper corner before a looping Jetro Willems cross was buried by Siem de Jong – the Newcastle United loanee doubling the host’s advantage from the edge of the box six minutes later.

Moreno would bag himself a brace with a carbon copy of his first just after the hour mark – the Mexican heading a left wing corner from fellow countryman, Andres Guardado past the helpless Benjamin van Leer.

The home side could and should have had more as they threatened to completely overrun their visitors before goal-scorer, de Jong helped himself to a brace of his own from the spot nineteen minutes from time after substitute, Jurgen Locadia had been pulled back in the area by Frederic Ananou.

Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the MAC3PARK Stadion where PEC Zwolle put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three by seeing off weary cup-semi-finalists, Vitesse Arnhem.

Having booked their place in the final of the KNVB Beker by virtue of a narrow win over Sparta Rotterdam on Wednesday evening, Henk Fraser’s men looked somewhat jaded following their mid-week cup exploits and their lethargy was punished by their hosts who hit the front through Mustafa Saymak with just ten minutes on the clock – the 24-year-old rolling a Bram van Polen cross from the right past the visitor’s second choice ‘keeper, Michael Tørnes before Birmingham City loanee, Nicolai Brock-Madsen doubled the home side’s advantage just eight minutes later – the Danish forward beating his fellow countryman, Tørnes to a high hanging through-ball from Philippe Sandler to head home his seventh of the season in all competitions.

Having secured a place in the cup final – which will be played a De Kuip in Rotterdam on 30th April, Fraser’s side must now turn their attention to securing a place in the end-of-season UEFA Europa League playoffs after slipping out of the top seven by virtue of defeat here. However, the visitors did claw their way back into the contest three minutes after the break – Ricky van Wolfswinkel poking the ball home from close range after Mickey van der Hart could only parry a low drive from the edge of the area by Milot Rashica into the path of the 28-year-old forward.

In truth however, Vitesse hardly ever looked likely to take anything from this game and, after Ajax loanee, Queensy Menig had rattled Tørnes’ left hand upright five minutes later, any chance of a come-back by Fraser’s men was iced in the 55th minute when Danny Holla restored the host’s two-goal cushion – the 29-year-old’s free kick from just outside the area leaving Vitesse’s Danish stand-in ‘keeper rooted to the spot.

Image result for sparta 1-0 feyenoord

Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway in remarkable fashion at Het Kasteel where hosts Sparta Rotterdam put their mid-week cup heartbreak behind them to inflict just a second Eredivisie defeat of the season on cross-city rivals, Feyenoord.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side came into this encounter still riding high off the back of a narrow victory over back-to-back champions, PSV Eindhoven – a win which, it seemed, had all but ended Phillip Cocu’s side’s involvement in the title race.

However, having seen their hopes of securing a first KNVB Beker triumph since 1966 come to an end after coming up short against Vitesse Arnhem in their semi-final encounter on Wednesday evening, Alex Pastoor’s side quickly refocused their attention on retaining their top flight status by catching the league leaders cold – Mathias Pogba heading a pinpoint Jerson Cabral cross past an exposed Brad Jones in the visiting goal with just 48 seconds on the clock.

Having been the beneficiaries of goal-line technology last time out in their showdown with third placed, PSV when Dutch international ‘keeper, Jeroen Zoet had been adjudged to have unwittingly carried the ball over his own goal line by referee, Bas Nijhuis for what ultimately proved to be the winning goal after stopping a Jan-Arie van der Heijden header, the visitors would, on this occasion, ironically be denied a point due to a lack of similar technology being available to referee, Danny Makkelie.

Having been distracted by a leaping Bilal Basacikoglu, Sparta ‘keeper Roy Kortsmit flapped at a Jens Toornstra cross from the right and was the most relived man in the stadium when the ball reappeared back in his hands after it had seemingly crossed the line prior to centre half, Sherel Floranus shovelling it back in his grateful goalkeeper’s direction thirteen minutes from time.

With the league leaders having lost, the door was left ajar for second placed Ajax to capitalise. However, Peter Bosz’s side could only take a point from their encounter with ten-man Groningen a little later on Sunday afternoon.

Having ridden their luck somewhat in an end-to-end first half, the away side should have gone in at the break a goal-to-the-good only for Amin Younes to see his right-footed drive from just inside the area cannon back off the inside of Sergio Padt’s left hand upright in the 39th minute.

Despite Ajax, who travel to Denmark for the 1st leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie with FC Copenhagen on Thursday evening, enjoying the majority of possession and chances in a goalless opening period, it was the hosts who hit the front eleven minutes into the second half in farcical fashion – Bryan Linssen clipping the heels of Ajax’s marauding ‘keeper, Andre Onana – who, having sold the 26-year-old Dutchman a dummy, then appeared to stumble, allowing Linssen to roll the ball into an empty net to notch his third goal in his last two appearances having bagged a brace in the home side’s loss at the hands of FC Utrecht last time out and despite replays suggesting that Onana had indeed been fouled by the Groningen goal-scorer, referee, Bas Nijhuis allowed the goal to stand.

In spite of squandering the opportunity to take their destiny into their own hands, the visitors did manage to cut Feyenoord’s lead at the top of the standings to four points thanks to skipper, Davy Klaassen – who, having been found with time and space aplenty on the edge of the host’s box, side-footed home Daley Sinkgraven’s low cross from the left to snatch what could yet prove to be a crucial point in the Lancers’ title hunt eight minutes from time.

However, the visitors may yet rue their failure to make their hosts pay when Bosnian centre half, Samir Memisevic was given his marching orders by referee, Nijhuis three minutes from time following a rash challenge on Sinkgraven.

Having reached the final of the KNVB Beker by the skin of their teeth following a nerve-jangling penalty shootout victory over second tier Cambuur in their semi-final encounter on Thursday evening – a weary AZ Alkmaar could only stutter to a draw with relegation-threatened Excelsior on Sunday afternoon.

Without a victory in the league since mid-November, Mitchell van der Gaag’s side would have feared the worst when – having seen his first attempt saved by Feyenoord loanee, Warner Hahn and his second blocked by Khalid Karami on the line, Dabney Dos Santos made no mistake with his third effort – which the 24-year-old ‘keeper could only divert into his own net.

However, with little margin for error at the wrong end of the table, Mike van Duinen’s close range finish on the hour mark following a mistake by AZ centre half, Ron Vlaar ultimately proved enough to secure a priceless point for the visitors.

At the same time, another side struggling at the wrong end of the table – ADO Den Haag, did their level best to preserve their own top flight status by holding in-form, FC Utrecht to a draw at the Stadion Galgenwaard.

Despite having become the first – and, as yet only Eredivisie side to dismiss their coach thus far this season, things had scarcely improved for the side from The Hague who came into this encounter propping up the table having taken just one point since the turn of the year.

However, when Dion Malone capitalised on a slip by Utrecht centre half, Ramon Leeuwin to streak clear and put Alfons Groenendijk’s side a goal up just after the quarter hour things appeared to be looking up for ADO – who last tasted victory at home to fellow strugglers, Sparta Rotterdam just prior to the winter break.

Yet, while Groenendijk’s men would leave with a point in their battle against the drop they would be denied all three after seeing their lead evaporate just before the break – Ajax loanee, Richairo Zivkovic bringing the home side – who came into this encounter with four wins from their last five, back onto level terms five minutes before the break with his eighth of the season in Utrecht colours – sliding the ball past visiting ‘keeper, Robert Zwinkels at the far post following a right wing cross from Utrecht’s 18-year-old full back, Giovanni Troupee.

Yet, it could have been a far different story had referee, Serdar Gözübüyük awarded the away side a spot-kick just before the interval when it appeared that Robin van de Meer had clearly brought down Guyon Fernandez in the box.

On the other hand, the hosts could have left their visitors with nothing to show for their bright first half display – Yassin Ayoub seeing his long range drive rattle Zwinkels’ crossbar a minute into the second half.

Sunday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the Goffertstadion where hosts NEC Nijmegen snapped their recent wretched run of five straight defeats by seeing off Heracles to move eight points clear of the bottom three and level on points with their visitors from Almelo.

However, things did not get off to the best of starts for Peter Hyballa’s men who fell behind to a Samuel Armenteros spot-kick after just fourteen minutes – referee, Pol van Boekel pointing to the spot after adjudging that Andre Fomitschow had pulled back Brandley Kuwas in the area leaving the visitor’s Swedish marksman to step up and bag his fifteenth of the season in all competitions.

Yet, despite the early setback, the hosts turned the score-line on its head in the space of seven minutes either side of the half hour mark – Julian von Haacke’s deflected effort pulling the home side back on level terms with 26 minutes on the clock before a blockbuster from Michael Heinloth fired Hyballa’s side into the ascendancy in the 33rd minute.

The host’s first league win since a home success over Roda on 22nd January was secured when Heracles’ 18-year-old centre half, Justin Hoogma unwittingly headed a von Haacke free kick into the back of his own net twenty one minutes from time.

Results: Week 25

SC Heerenveen 2-2 Go Ahead Eagles

FC Twente 2-1 Willem II

PSV Eindhoven 4-0 Roda JC

PEC Zwolle 3-1 Vitesse Arnhem

Sparta Rotterdam 1-0 Feyenoord

FC Groningen 1-1 AFC Ajax

AZ Alkmaar 1-1 Excelsior

FC Utrecht 1-1 ADO Den Haag

NEC Nijmegen 3-1 Heracles



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