The twenty seventh round of Eredivisie action got underway on Friday evening at the Parkstad Limburg Stadion where hosts Roda JC missed the opportunity to move out of the bottom three after being hit for three by visitors, FC Twente.
Having picked up three much needed points last time out against Groningen after two successive defeats had previously plunged Yannis Anastasiou’s side deep into the relegation mire, the hosts – who were looking to record their first back-to-back victories of what has been a tough campaign thus far, found themselves – despite having made a bright start to proceedings, a goal down on the half hour mark – Fredrik Jensen latching on to a perfectly weighted through ball by Mateusz Klich before shrugging off the attentions of Frederic Ananou and calmly slotting the ball under home ‘keeper Benjamin van Leer to put the visitors into the ascendancy.
Despite being unable to take part in the end-of-season UEFA Europa League playoffs due to the sanctions imposed in the wake of the club’s emergence from financial oblivion last summer, Rene Hake’s men have never let their attitude or professionalism come into question this season and the away side were on course for a fourth away success of the campaign when Jensen doubled the visitor’s advantage two minutes before the break – Chinedu Ede finding the 19-year-old midfielder who – having been afforded a remarkable amount of time and space in the host’s area, slipped the ball past an exposed van Leer.
FC Twente have recently been locked in negotiations with Manchester City to extend free-scoring Turkish international, Enes Unal’s stay in Enschede and the 19-year-old was on hand to dispel any hopes the struggling hosts may have harboured of making a comeback thirteen minutes from time – slotting the ball through the legs of van Leer after running onto a perfectly judged slide-rule pass from fellow Manchester City loanee, Yaw Yeboah to notch his thirteenth of the season and, in the process, seal all three points for Hake’s side who, as a result, moved up to fifth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action began at the Noordlease Stadion where, despite dominating proceedings hosts, Groningen had to be content with sharing the spoils with a stubborn Willem II.
After dominating the opening period the hosts – whose last victory came in mid-January, hit the front four minutes after the restart when Ruben Jenssen found himself in the right place at the right time to beat the host’s in-form ‘keeper, Kostas Lamprou from just inside the box after seeing Simon Tibbling’s initial effort deflect his way.
Having won two of their last three on the road ahead of making the trip north, Ewin van de Looi’s men looked to be at it again when Obbi Oulare headed home Jordy Croux’s pinpoint cross from the left with 54 minutes gone – the Watford loanee’s strike ultimately securing an undeserved point for van de Looi’s current side at the expense of his former employers to keep the Tilburg-based outfit’s unlikely quest for a UEFA Europa League playoff place on track.
Elsewhere, PSV Eindhoven kept up the pressure on Ajax and Feyenoord by squeezing past visitors, Vitesse Arnhem.
Despite enjoying the majority of the chances in a scoreless first period, Phillip Cocu’s men had to wait until five minute into the second half to break the deadlock – Newcastle United loanee, Siem de Jong notching his fourth goal in his last three outings for the reigning back-to-back champions by rifling the ball into the top corner of Eloy Room’s net from just inside the area after his late run had been found by the vision of Mexican international, Andres Guardado following a well-worked corner routine.
While de Jong’s strike was ultimately enough to see off the cup finalists and pull the hosts within a point of second placed Ajax, Cocu’s side could have doubled their advantage fourteen minutes from time but substitute, Jurgen Locadia saw his rasping effort cannon back off Room’s right hand upright before the visiting ‘keeper did well to rebuff Marco van Ginkel – denying the Chelsea loanee from close range before clawing the loose ball off the line five minutes from time.
FC Utrecht heaped more misery on hosts, NEC Nijmegen – who continued to tread water at the wrong end of the table after being hit for three in front of their own fans on Saturday evening.
With just one win in their last seven outings, Peter Hyballa’s men looked devoid of both confidence and inspiration in the early stages at the Goffertstadion and it came as little surprise when Zakaria Labyad’s deflected shot handed the visitors the lead on the half hour mark who then doubled their advantage when Erik ten Hag’s men hit their hosts with a swift counter attack that was finished off by Yassin Ayoub eight minutes before the break.
The away side made sure of all three points just after the hour mark – talismanic Frenchman, Sebastien Haller slotting past home ‘keeper, Joris Delle after being slipped in by Sofyan Amrabat.
Saturday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at Het Kasteel, where struggling, Sparta Rotterdam put last week’s five-goal hammering in Arnhem behind them by seeing off visitors, Heracles to move five points clear of the bottom three ahead of Sunday’s fixtures.
Alex Pastoor’s men hit the front just short of the half hour mark when an effort from star man, Ryan Sanusi took a wicked deflection off Heracles centre half, Justin Hoogma to take the ball beyond the reach of Bram Castro in the visiting goal.
Yet, the host’s advantage looked to be short-lived when the away side were awarded a penalty ten minutes before the break – referee, Bas Nijhuis pointing to the spot after Tom Breukers was brought down by Loris Brogno in the host’s area. However, the resultant spot-kick from away side’s usually lethal Swedish marksman – Samuel Armenteros was easily fielded by Ryan Kortsmit.
The hosts made their visitors pay for their profligacy eight minutes after the restart – Martin Pusic netting his first goal in a Sparta shirt following his January loan move from FC Midtjylland –the Austrian heading home at the back post following a Jerson Cabral free kick from the right before the much-travelled 29-year-old then made sure of all three points for Pastoor’s side by bagging a second of the game seventeen minutes from time – heading a Brogno cross from the left past Castro from close range.
While John Stegeman’s side did manage to get themselves on the scoresheet, Joel Pelupessy’s cracker ultimately counted for nothing.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action got underway at the Abe Lenstra Stadion where top-of-the-table, Feyenoord took a step closer to securing their first league title since 1999 by coming from behind to eventually edge out their hosts, Heerenveen.
Despite having won just twice since the winter break, Jurgen Streppel’s side hit the front from the penalty spot eighteen minutes in – Reza Ghoochannejhad getting up to convert the resultant spot-kick after referee, Dennis Higler had ruled that the Iranian international had been brought down in the area by Miquel Nelom.
However, in spite of having gone in at the break a goal-to-the-good, the hosts failed to turn their half time lead into points and found themselves back on level terms just eleven minutes after the restart – Nicolai Jorgensen finding himself in the right place at the right time to bag his twenty third goal of a prolific debut season with the Rotterdam giants after Lucas Bijker could only deflect a Karim El Ahmadi cross that was initially intended for Jens Toornstra right into the path of Feyenoord’s Danish marksman.
Not content with taking just a point back to Rotterdam with the season’s second instalment of De Klassieker to come after the international break, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men helped themselves to all three to move seven points clear of Ajax ahead of their bitter rivals’ encounter with Excelsior later on Sunday afternoon – Tonny Vilhena smashing the ball hard and low past former team-mate, Erwin Mulder in the Heerenveen goal after being teed up by Watford loanee, Steven Berghuis twenty minutes from time.
Elsewhere, PEC Zwolle came away from their trip to De Adelaarshorst with all three points and local bragging rights after completing the double over their local rivals, Go Ahead Eagles in the IJsselderby.
With three local derbies and a trip to De Kuip to come in their next four outings ahead of the visit of Ron Jans’ side, Hans de Koning’s men knew that this was a game that the Eredivisie cellar-dwellers simply had to take all three points from if they were to stand any chance of escaping the dreaded bottom three before the end of the campaign.
With this in mind, the hosts made the perfect start – Liverpool loanee, Pedro Chirivella bagging his second since arriving in Deventer during the January transfer window – sliding home a perfectly placed outside of the right boot cross from another of the home side’s loan stars – Brighton‘s Elvis Manu, past former Eagle – Mickey van der Hart, with just three minutes gone.
However, the home side’s advantage wasn’t to last and, just two minutes later, the away side were back on level terms through Ajax loanee, Queensy Menig – the 21-year-old nicking a flick-on from Birmingham City loanee, Nicolai Brock-Madsen away from the advancing Theo Zwarthoed before rounding the host’s stranded ‘keeper and rolling the ball into an empty net to make it all square with five minutes on the clock.
With the difficulty of their run-in towards the end of the campaign foremost in their mind, taking just a point from a fixture they had earmarked to win was clearly not an option for de Koning’s men who went in search of all three following the break but, having thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at their visitors, the hosts were instead caught short at the back – Django Warmerdam – another Ajax loanee, lashing a low drive past Zwarthoed eight minutes from time after the 21-year-old had been found in acres of space on the left by a pinpoint cross-field ball from Mustafa Saymak.
Having already taken the spoils in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, Ron Jans’ men were able to celebrate a convincing double over their local rivals when Bram van Polen converted from the spot two minutes from time after referee, Danny Makkelie had ruled that Arsenal loanee, Daniel Crowley had unlawfully blocked the late run of Ryan Thomas following a Warmerdam corner from the right.
Three days after this latest setback, with the Eagles rooted to the foot of the standings having taken just one point from their last five outings and four points adrift of safety with just seven games left to play, the club opted to relieve coach, Hans de Koning of his duties with his assistants – Harry Decheiver and Michel Boerebach, assuming temporary charge of the struggling Deventer-based outfit as the club look to avoid a swift return to the second tier of Dutch football.
With Feyenoord having extended their lead at the top of the standings to seven points following their victory over Heerenveen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men had local neighbours, Excelsior to thank after Mitchell van der Gaag’s strugglers held title-chasing Ajax at the Stadion Woudestein on Sunday afternoon.
Having been called up to Danny Blind’s Netherlands squad for the upcoming fixtures with Bulgaria and Italy following a string of impressive displays at the heart of the Ajax rear guard, Matthijs de Ligt began this encounter in similarly impressive fashion – the 17-year-old’s perfectly timed tackle denying Mike van Duinen a clear goal-scoring opportunity with just twelve minutes gone.
However, despite his recent good form, a poorly judged pass across the face of his own goal from the talented young defender thirteen minutes later left van Duinen in the clear with time and space aplenty to rifle the ball – via the left knee of Kenny Tete, past the exposed Andre Onana and give van der Gaag’s strugglers an unlikely lead with twenty five minutes on the clock.
Despite the host’s advantage lasting just six minutes – Justin Kluivert’s first ever Eredivisie strike levelling proceedings just after the hour mark, a winning goal ultimately proved elusive for Peter Bosz’s troops who consequently slipped six points off the pace following Feyenoord’s win earlier in the day in Heerenveen.
With their title hopes seemingly hanging by a thread, Ajax now find themselves in a must-win situation with bitter rivals, Feyenoord next up for Bosz’s troops at the Amsterdam ArenA following the international break in the second instalment of De Klassieker on 2nd April – an encounter that will go a long way to deciding who reigns supreme at the top of the standings come the end of the season.
Sunday’s Eredivisie action was concluded at the AFAS Stadion where hosts, AZ Alkmaar hit struggling ADO Den Haag for four to keep their quest for a UEFA Europa League playoff place on track after recording just their third league win since the turn of the year and their first since mid-February.
John van den Brom’s side were out of the blocks quickly – Dabney dos Santos sliding the ball past Robert Zwinkels after being teed up by the head of Iranian international, Alireza Jahanbakhsh with just seven minutes gone before the 20-year-old then doubled the host’s advantage six minutes later with a simple finish from the edge of the box after a perfectly weighted through ball from Jahanbakhsh slipped in Stijn Wuytens whose square pass across the face of goal left dos Santos with the goal at his mercy.
Joris van Overeem made it three nine minutes before the break with a perfectly weighted lob before then turning provider on the hour to put the seal on a dominant performance by the hosts – Fred Friday slamming the 22-year-old’s audacious back heel from the by-line into the roof of Zwinkel’s net from the edge of the box.
Results: Week 27
Roda JC 0-3 FC Twente
Fc Groningen 1-1 Willem II
PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Vitesse Arnhem
NEC Nijmegen 0-3 FC Utrecht
Sparta Rotterdam 3-1 Heracles
SC Heerenveen 1-2 Feyenoord
Go Ahead Eagles 1-3 PEC Zwolle
Excelsior 1-1 AFC Ajax
AZ Alkmaar 4-0 ADO Den Haag
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