The relegation battle heats up as the bottom four avoid defeat while Ajax beat RKC and PSV stay three points clear with a win over Utrecht
NEC 1-2 VVV
VVV pulled themselves closer to safety by collecting all three points from their match against NEC on Friday.
NEC threatened straight from kick-off as Soren Rieks came close to finding the back of the net in the first minute, before Nick van der Velden gave NEC a one goal advantage just six minutes into the match. The 31-year-old midfielder’s ambitious effort from the edge of the area evaded Niki Maenpaa and flew into the bottom corner.
It took just five minutes for the Venlo club to equalise, however, with Uche Nwofor beating defender Rens van Eijden and tucking it into the net.
NEC found themselves a man down after 65 minutes when Nathaniel Will was dismissed for a foul on Bryan Linssen.
And VVV were able to capitalise on the numerical advantage as Linssen stole the three points for his side, heading in Barry Maguire’s cross at the front post.
TWENTE 1-1 WILLEM II
A last minute goal from Ricardo Ippel rescued a crucial point for bottom side Willem II as they drew 1-1 with Steve McClaren’s Twente.
The home side enjoyed the majority of possession from the beginning of the match as Willem II sat deep in their own half.
Luc Castaignos and Leroy Fer both came close to opening the scoring in the first-half but failed to hit the target.
McClaren’s side took the lead just before half-time when Fer headed a Dusan Tadic cross towards goal and centre-back Douglas was there to divert it past goalkeeper David Meul.
Willem II began to see more of the ball throughout the second period and created some chances, with Aurelien Joachim and Virgil Misidjan coming close.
Robbert Schilder was unlucky not to increase Twente’s advantage when he hit a fantastic shot from distance which flew past Meul but was pushed back out by the bar.
Twente were made to rue their missed chances as Ippel smashed in the equaliser from 30 yards in the dying minutes to tie up the game and earn a point for his side.
NAC 1-1 HERACLES
NAC climbed up to 12thplace on Saturday by fighting back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Heracles.
The Almelo side were on top for most of the first-half and opened the scoring after 11 minutes as Everton headed in a corner from Marko Vejinovic.
The Brazilian should have doubled his tally later on in the half as Heracles continued to threaten but both he and Ninos Gouriye failed to hit the back of the net.
At the other end, Remko Pasveer kept out Anthony Lurling, before Jordy Buijs had a golden opportunity to blast home the equaliser in injury time of the first half, but his effort went wide of the mark.
NAC began to press more after half-time and they levelled matters 11 minutes after the restart as Rick ten Voorde rose to meet Buijs fantastic free kick and headed it in.
Buoyed by the equaliser, NAC continued to attack and threaten the Heracles goal but couldn’t find the winner, leaving both sides with a point.
RODA 2-2 AZ
Gertjan Verbeek’s AZ were held to a 2-2 draw by struggling Roda, who are now unbeaten in eight Eredivisie matches.
The deadlock was broken after just 35 seconds as Roda attacked straight from kick-off. Mark-Jan Fledderus fired towards goal from 25 yards and Esteban did well to keep it out but he could do nothing as Sanharib Malki tapped in the rebound first time.
Jozy Altidore and Viktor Elm both came close to equalising shortly afterwards but both players saw their ambitious efforts go just wide. Those two linked up later in the half as Elm played a neat pass to Altidore who turned his marker and fired past Filip Kurto to level the score.
AZ took the lead early in the second half with a wonderful Willie Overtoom free-kick which sailed over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
Frank Demouge equalised for the hosts with 25 minutes remaining as Malki headed a high ball down to the forward who knocked it past Esteban with ease.
Ruud Brood’s men came close to regaining their lead moments after the equaliser as defender Robbie Wielaert chested the ball down and unleashed a shot from outside the box but he was kept out by the crossbar.
From then on, AZ pushed forward in search of the winning goal and continually tested Kurto but the Alkmaar side found no joy and the game ended 2-2.
PSV 2-1 UTRECHT
PSV maintained their lead at the top of the Eredivisie as they came from behind to beat Utrecht 2-1 in Eindhoven.
Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga was lucky to put his side ahead ten minutes into the game as his shot from outside the box took a deflection off of Mark van Bommel, flew over Boy Waterman and into the goal.
Mulenga came close to scoring a second goal a minute later when Nana Asare crossed into the box but the forward’s header flew past the post.
A fantastic free kick from Dries Mertens made it 1-1 on the half-hour-mark, with the Belgian winger sent it curling round the wall and past Robbin Ruiter.
Mertens almost capped off a wonderful team move with a goal shortly after the restart but Utrecht goalkeeper Ruiter did well to save his close range effort before Georginio Wijnaldum made it 2-1 to PSV as he tapped in Jereman Lens’s cutback.
Shortly after gaining the lead, the home side went down to ten men when Atiba Hutchinson was sent off for his second yellow card.
PSV continued to dominate the game and should have won by more than one as Tim Matavz had two great chances to beat Ruiter, but missed the target on both occasions.
VITESSE 2-0 GRONINGEN
Second-half goals from Mike Havenaar and Wilfried Bony secured three points for Vitesse, who beat Groningen 2-0 on Sunday.
Fred Rutten’s side were on top straight from kick-off but failed to capitalise on their dominance as Groningen sat back and looked to hit them on the counter attack.
Jonathan Reis had the match’s first real opportunity when he rose to meet Patrick van Aanholt’s fantastic cross, but the Brazilian’s header went over the bar.
Genero Zeefuik had the opportunity to give the visitors the lead when he latched onto a long ball and went one-on-one with Piet Velthuizen but the Vitesse goalkeeper rushed out and denied the Groningen frontman.
Vitesse were much brighter in the second period and eight minutes after the restart they found the opening goal as Renato Ibarra crossed to Havenaar, who headed it past Marco Bizot.
Ten minutes later, the hosts’ lead was doubled when Marco van Ginkel was tripped in the box, and Bony stepped up to convert the resultant penalty.
ZWOLLE 3-2 FEYENOORD
Zwolle boosted their chances of survival by picking up three vital points with a 3-2 win over Feyenoord.
It took just 65 seconds for the first goal to be scored and it was Feyenoord striker Graziano Pelle who knocked it past his own keeper to give the hosts the lead.
Zwolle’s advantage was doubled four minutes later when Darryl Lachman ran onto Arne Slot's perfectly weighted through ball and touched it past Erwin Mulder.
Feyenoord began to fight back once they had settled into the match and halved the deficit with Pelle’s wonderful overhead kick to beat Diederik Boer. A minute later, the former AZ striker pulled the Rotterdam side level, shaking off his marker and heading home a Jordy Clasie corner with relative ease.
Despite Feyenoord’s fantastic comeback, Zwolle were next to find the net when Mateusz Klich sent a corner into the box for Denni Avdic, who diverted into the net with 15 minutes remaining.
Feyenoord pressed forward in search of another equaliser and they came close through Lex Immers, whose shot went just wide.
ADO 2-1 HEERENVEEN
Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen lie just a point above the relegation playoff spots after losing 2-1 to ADO Den Haag.
ADO goalkeeper Gino Coutinho could do nothing to stop Sven Kums' magnificent volley from flying into the back of the net to give Heerenveen the lead after 13 minutes.
Danny Holla benefited from a deflection off of Joey van den Berg which gave Heerenveen goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt no chance to stop the ADO star’s shot.
The home side began to attack more after the equaliser and took the lead nine minutes before the break when a corner struck the post and fell to Santi Kolk, who smashed his team in front.
Heerenveen were made to play the entire second-half with ten men as Joey van den Berg was sent off with his second booking moments before the break.
Despite being a man down, they had plenty of opportunities to rescue a point with Filip Djuricic coming close several times but the Frisians were left frustrated in front of goal.
RKC 0-2 AJAX
Frank de Boer’s Ajax ensured they stay within three points of league leaders PSV with a 2-0 win over RKC in Waalwijk.
Ajax were by far the better side throughout the 90 minutes and took the lead midway through the first-half through defender Niklas Moisander, who tapped home at the far post after Siem de Jong had knocked it across the face of goal.
Christian Eriksen made it 2-0 to the reigning Eredivisie champions with five minutes left in the opening period, embarking on a wonderful run in which he beat two defenders before smashing it into the bottom corner.
RKC were given the opportunity to pull a goal back after the restart when Toby Alderweireld handled the ball inside the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Robert Braber stepped up to take the spot kick but his effort was straight at Kenneth Vermeer, who made his third penalty save of the season.
In the final 15 minutes of the game, substitute Mart Lieder found himself one-on-one with Vermeer but the Ajax goalkeeper was quick off his line and kept the forward at bay to ensure he kept a clean sheet on his 100thgame for the Amsterdam giants.