Only one of the top four teams won this weekend as Vitesse and Feyenoord threw away leads to draw with smaller sides and Heerenveen came back to beat Willem II 3-2
VVV 0-2 Zwolle
Zwolle are now all but safe in the Dutch top flight after they beat second bottom side VVV 2-0 on Friday.
Fred Benson converted the first chance of the match, pouncing on a defensive error and charged down the left wing before cutting inside and firing past Niki Maenpaa.
VVV didn’t threaten Zwolle’s goal until after 26 minutes when Bryan Linssen ran onto a pass and knocked it towards goal but his shot went wide.
The game was looking like it could have gone either way as both sides created some chances as it wore on. But Benson later doubled Zwolle’s lead, running onto Wiljan Pluim’s lovely through ball which the VVV defence failed to deal with before tucking it into the net to seal the three points for Zwolle.
RODA 3-3 VITESSE
Vitesse’s title hopes took a blow on Saturday as they surrendered a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with relegation battlers Roda.
The hosts started the game the brighter of the two sides and almost took the lead 12 minutes in when Mitchell Donald went through on goal but the former Ajax midfielder hit the post. Vitesse made the Kerkrade pay for the missed opportunity, going ahead through Mike Havenaar, who rose high to meet Renato Ibarra’s cross and head into the net.
Havenaar made it 2-0 just 10 minutes later after heading it to Wilfried Bony in the middle of the park and running onto the return ball to slot past Filip Kurto.
Vitesse looked to have wrapped the game up just 10 minutes into the second-half when Bony headed Ibarra’s cross into the bottom corner for goal number 30 in the Eredivisie for the Ivorian striker.
Roda then embarked on a wonderful comeback, which was sparked into life shortly after the hour mark when Sanharib Malki converted the resultant spot kick from a Jan-Arie van der Heijden handball.
Then, Frank Demouge narrowed the deficit to one goal, meeting Guus Hupperts’ low cross in at the back post. Vitesse looked to have done enough to see the game out but Donald made up for his earlier miss in the fifth minute of injury time, heading into an empty net after Guram Kashia’s poor clearance bounced off his own post and into the path of the midfielder.
NAC 2-0 NEC
Two late goals secured three points for NAC as they beat NEC 2-0 to put a dent in the visitors’ hopes of finishing the season in a Europa League play-off place.
The game got off to a slow start as neither side created many chances throughout the first period. It picked up a bit after half-time but remained goalless until Anthony Lurling opened the scoring in superb style after 82 minutes. The 35-year-old striker dispossessed Leroy George in NAC’s half and charged forward, toward the NEC goal, evaded the challenge of Ryan Koolwijk and then Rens van Eijden before smashing it home.
Three minutes later, Elson Hooi killed off the game by blasting towards goal after Mats Seuntjens passed to him in acres of space on the right side. Gabor Babos should have done better in dealing with the shot, as in the goal before, but the NEC goalkeeper could only get a hand to the shot.
HERACLES 0-2 GRONINGEN
Groningen leapfrogged NEC and ADO with a 2-0 win over Heracles in the Polman Stadion.
David Texeira should have given Groningen an early lead when Andraz Kirm’s pass put him through on goal but a last ditch tackle saw the danger cleared. Teixeira almost scored immediately afterwards when the resultant corner was knocked down to him but his shot was deflected wide by Milano Koenders. Then, Rasmus Lindgren came within centimetres of putting Groningen ahead when his free-kick struck the bar.
Everton enjoyed Heracles’ first real chance of the game on the stroke of half-time but Marco Bizot’s strong save kept out his effort. Then, in the second period, Marko Vejinovic saw a well taken free-kick palmed wide by the Groningen keeper.
Texeira eventually broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark, latching onto a poor clearance from the Heracles defence and scoring from outside the box. Leandro Bacuna put the game beyond doubt with 15 minutes remaining, scoring a penalty which was awarded when Kirm was brought down in the box by Thomas Bruns.
ADO 1-3 TWENTE
A brace from Dmitri Bulykin and a goal from Douglas were enough to see off the challenge of ten-man ADO as Twente ran out 3-1 winners in Den Haag.
Both teams created chances in the early stages as Dusan Tadic saw an effort go just wide before Danny Holla chipped over Nikolay Mihaylov from the edge of the box at the other end, only to see the ball bounce off the top of the bar and go out.
Twente drew first blood when the ADO defense failed to deal with a Wout Brama free kick and centre-back Douglas was there to smash it in.
Mike van Duinen equalised for ADO five minutes before the break as he collected a superb Aaron Meijers pass and beat Mihaylov.
ADO found themselves a man down when Holla picked up his second yellow card on the hour mark.
Bulykin restored Twente’s lead and then put the game in doubt with two goals in quick succession. First, turning Kenneth Omeruo before slamming past Gino Coutinho and then diverting in the rebound after the 30-year-old could only deflect Tadic’s shot towards the tall Russian striker.
HEERENVEEN 3-2 WILLEM II
Heerenveen came from behind to beat bottom club Willem II 3-2 and lift themselves into seventh place as they look to ensure a place in the Europa League playoff places this season.
Willem II surprisingly dominated the game from the early stages, threatening the hosts’ goal in the opening minutes while Heerenveen remained toothless in comparison.
Ricardo Ippel gave Willem II a deserved lead as he met Kristoffer Nordfeldt’s punch from a corner with a fantastic volley from outside the box. Heerenveen started to attack more as the first-half wore on but didn’t equalise until eight minutes after the restart when Yassine El Ghanassy side footed Pele van Anholt’s cross into the bottom corner.
El Ghanassy then set up Alfred Finnbogason, who knocked it in from close range to put the home side in the lead. Finnbogason looked to have made it 3-1 to Heerenveen when he put the ball in the net but his goal was disallowed for a push on a defender.
Moments later, Aurelien Joachim collected a pass from Tim Cornelisse and put it past Nordfeldt with the aid of a deflection. Just as Willem II looked to have secured a draw, Heerenveen were awarded a penalty for a Philipp Haastrup handball and Finnbogason stepped up to convert and steal the three points for Marco van Basten’s team.
AZ 6-0 UTRECHT
Jozy Altidore netted a hat-trick as AZ picked up three vital points with a 6-0 mauling of nine-man Utrecht in Alkmaar.
The hosts were handed the lead when Altidore converted a penalty after Anouar Kali brought down the USA international inside the box and received his second yellow card. The same thing happened again just minutes later when Jan Wuytens knocked Willie Overtoom down to receive his second booking and Altidore again stepped up to score from 12 yards.
A further three minutes later, Altidore completed his hat-trick by heading Giliano Wijnaldum’s cross past Jeroen Verhoeven.
Utrecht defender Mike van der Hoorn made matters worse for his side as he tried to rush a clearance, despite having plenty of time to sort his feet and deal with the danger, but inadvertently knocked it into his own net to make it 4-0 at half-time.
Markus Henriksen made it 5-0 after 61 minutes with a curling effort from distance, before Aron Johannsson scored AZ’s sixth goal in injury time.
RKC 1-1 FEYENOORD
Feyenoord lost ground on league leaders Ajax as they threw away a lead to draw 1-1 with RKC.
The visitors created more chances from the beginning of the match and found themselves in the lead after just 13 minutes. The Rotterdam side were awarded a penalty when Ruben Schaken was fouled by Ard van Peppen inside the box and Graziano Pelle converted from the spot.
The game died down following the goal as neither side created could build any momentum or create many chances.
RKC put a massive dent on Feyenoord’s title chances, however, as Sander Duits embarked on a run through the middle of the park, the midfielder was never closed down by the visitors and was free to pick his spot and fire home from outside the box.
Feyenoord pressed on in search of a winning goal throughout the remaining 35 minutes but found no joy as they fell to six points behind league leaders Ajax.
PSV 2-3 AJAX
Ajax saw off the challenge of title rivals PSV with a 3-2 win to open up a six point gap between themselves and the Eindhoven club and go five points ahead of second placed club Vitesse.
It was a fairly even opening 20 minutes but Ajax soon began to see more of the ball and threaten the hosts. The first goal came when Christian Eriksen’s low cross bounced off of Mark van Bommel and fell to Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who scooped it past Boy Waterman.
PSV drew level 10 minutes later when Eriksen was caught in possession by Kevin Strootman, twho charged forward and passed to Jeremain Lens who tapped it over the line.
Ajax felt they should have had a penalty in the first-half when Viktor Fischer went down in the box but the referee waved away the claims coming from the visitors.
Frank de Boer’s side restored their advantage in the second-half through Eriksen who went on a fantastic forward run before tucking it into the net.
Lens came to the rescue for PSV once again as he was the first one to react when Dries Mertens’ free-kick was kept alive by the post, the forward comfortably put it into the empty net while the Ajax defenders stood and watched.
The reigning champions went ahead for a third time when substitute Derk Boerrigter put pressure on Erik Pieters, who failed to hold off the challenge of the winger. The Ajax player stole the ball from the PSV defender and put it away in his first involvement in the match.
This time, Ajax held onto the lead and secured the three points to give themselves a big lead at the top of the table with just four games left to play.