Wins for Vitesse and Feyenoord means the Eredivisie top four are separated by just three points while it gets tighter at the bottom as Willem II beat VVV
GRONINGEN 1-1 NAC
Groningen and NAC shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in the Euroborg on Friday night.
The teams were evenly matched throughout an uneventful and goalless first half but the game sparked into life shortly after the restart.
Three minutes into the second period, a poor clearance from a Groningen corner fell to Maikel Kieftenbeld who smashed it into the top corner from outside the box, leaving Jelle ten Rouwelaar with no chance.
Just two minutes later, however, Groningen’s lead was lost as the referee awarded NAC a penalty for Lorenzo Burnet’s tackle on Elson Hooi and Jordy Buijs stepped up and knocked the spot kick past goalkeeper Marco Bizot.
Groningen created the better of chances throughout the remainder of the half and should have taken the lead through Rasmus Lindgren when he headed towards goal from close range but Ten Rouwelaar kept the score level.
HEERENVEEN 2-1 PSV
The title race was blown wide open as Dick Advocaat’s PSV suffered a 2-1 defeat to Heerenveen on Saturday night.
Heerenveen were by far the better team in the first half and were able to convert their chances to go in at the break with a two-goal lead.
It took just eight minutes for Marco van Basten’s side to break the deadlock as Marten de Roon slid in to meet Yassine El Ghanassy’s low cross and divert past Boy Waterman.
Pele van Anholt almost doubled Heerenveen’s lead when he drove down the left wing and unleashed a shot but his effort flew across the face of goal.
El Ghanassy then got on the scoresheet himself when he netted the rebound after Waterman denied Filip Djurcic.
PSV looked much better in the second period than they did in the first and Tim Matavz should have halved the deficit with a header but he struck the crossbar.
The Eindhoven side pulled a goal back with 16 minutes remaining as Kevin Strootman met a corner at the back post and fired towards goal. His shot bounced off striker Ola Toivonen and past Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
Marcelo and Matavz both had fantastic opportunities to pull PSV level in the final minutes as they got on the end of crosses but neither could beat Nordfeldt, who ensured Heerenveen took the three points.
HERACLES 1-0 NEC
Heracles move up to 10th place as they beat NEC 1-0 in the Polman Stadion.
Both sides created chances in the first half with Erik Falkenburg and Lerin Duarte each missing two chances to hit the net.
NEC should have opened the scoring early in the second 45 when Leroy George sent a low cross into the box for Soren Rieks who was denied by Remko Pasveer.
Shortly afterwards, Everton opened the scoring as he ran onto a diagonal ball from Duarte and headed past goalkeeper Gabor Babos.
Heracles soon found themselves a man down when Thomas Bruns was shown a red card for a stamp on Daan Bovenberg.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the hosts could have enhanced their lead but for some fantastic saves from Luciano da Silva and Geoffrey Castilion’s shot being kept out by the crossbar.
WILLEM II 1-0 VVV
A late goal from Danny Guijt secured a vital three points for bottom club Willem II as they defeated second bottom VVV.
The hosts created plenty of chances throughout the first 45 minutes with Aurelien Joachim and Nicky Hofs both coming close, but the Tilburg duo were denied by some excellent goalkeeping from former Willem II player Niki Maenpaa.
Willem II were not as dominant after the restart but remained the better team against a toothless VVV side.
Just as the game looked to be heading out for a goalless draw, substitute Guijt tucked it past Maenpaa in the dying minutes to pull his side within five points of the Venlo club.
AZ 1-1 ADO
AZ are still hovering dangerously close to the play-off spot after they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with ADO.
The Alkmaar side were on top for most of the first half but it was ADO who took the lead.
Jozy Altidore came out second best in an one-on-one situation but they were made to rue the miss as at the other end Mike van Duinen opened the scoring after 10 minutes, collecting a long ball from Danny Holla and beating AZ goalkeeper Esteban to score his third goal in two matches.
Viktor Elm equalised for AZ just 15 minutes later, however, when he smashed Roy Beerens’ pass into the top corner.
Both sides had chances to steal the three points in the second half but failed to add to their tally and were forced to settle for a draw.
RODA 0-1 FEYENOORD
Feyenoord ensured they maintained the pressure on the leading duo with a 1-0 win over struggling Roda.
The deadlock was broken when Ruben Schaken received a pass from Jordy Clasie on the right wing and skipped past Abel Tamata before lifting the ball in for Graziano Pelle who headed his side into the lead.
The Italian frontman could have doubled his tally just a minute later but his header was too easy for Roda goalkeeper Mateusz Prus.
Roda had chances to equalise throughout the second half when Mitchell Donald found himself in a great position in the box but the former Ajax player fired wide.
The hosts felt they had equalised with minutes to go as they thought a header had crossed the line before Jordy Clasie cleared it, but the officials wouldn’t award the goal and Feyenoord collected an important win.
UTRECHT 1-0 RKC
Utrecht leapfrogged Twente into fifth place with a 1-0 victory over RKC on Sunday.
The home side threatened from the beginning of the game but struggled to break through a solid RKC defence and threaten the on-form goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet.
RKC, however, had the first big goal-scoring opportunity when Teddy Chevalier blasted towards goal but Robbin Ruiter managed to tip it over the bar.
The second half got off to a slow start with neither side creating many chances.
However, Jacob Mulenga was twice denied by Zoet before eventually hitting the net after 78 minutes as he nodded a fantastic Tommy Oar cross past the RKC shot stopper.
AJAX 3-0 ZWOLLE
Ajax capitalised on PSV’s defeat the previous night by beating Zwolle and lifting themselves into top spot.
The reigning Eredivisie champions were dominant throughout the game but Zwolle still managed to create two chances in the early stages.
Ajax found themselves a goal to the good within the first 20 minutes when striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson ran onto Lasse Schone’s fantastic through-ball and slotted it past Diederik Boer.
The forward had a hand in his side’s next goal when he was denied by Boer who could only parry it towards Siem de Jong, and the captain made no mistake in making it 2-0 to Ajax.
Substitute Derk Boerrigter capped things off with 10 minutes remaining, tapping in after Christian Eriksen had squared to him at the end of a superb run.
TWENTE 0-1 VITESSE
Vitesse ensured they remain within touching distance of the leading pack with a win over Twente thanks to Wilfried Bony’s second-half strike.
The visitors thought they had opened the scoring inside the first 15 minutes but Gael Kakuta’s goal was disallowed for a foul on Wout Brama.
Twente should have gone ahead when Willem Janssen took a Tim Holscher pass and rounded Piet Velthuizen, but the midfielder missed the open goal, sending it over the bar.
Later in the half, Dusan Tadic had a great opportunity to put Twente in the lead when he slipped in behind the defence but failed to beat Velthuizen.
The only goal of the game came after 63 minutes when Bony coolly knocked it into the net after running onto Renato Ibarra’s pass.
The win keeps Vitesse in fourth place, just three points behind league leaders Ajax with eight games left to play.