Netherlands' top four all picked up victories this weekend as they remain separated by just four points, while the gap gets wider at the bottom
FEYENOORD 1-0 VVV
Graziano Pelle’s second-half strike ensured Feyenoord’s title challenge remains on track as they beat VVV 1-0 on Friday.
The Rotterdam side started the game the brighter of the two but failed to convert their chances. Tonny Vilhena and Jean-Paul Boetius both scuppered opportunities in the early stages. Ricky van Haaren could have punished the hosts for their sloppy finishing as VVV broke forward on the counterattack and the midfielder found himself through on goal but he sent his effort wide.
VVV came close once again in the first period when Jeffrey Leiwakabessy crossed to Robert Cullen who headed towards goal but Feyenoord goalkeeper Erwin Mulder palmed it over the bar.
Pelle netted the game’s only goal as his fantastic header to meet Joris Mathijsen’s diagonal cross flew over Niki Maenpaa and into the net.
VITESSE 3-0 NAC
Wilfried Bony netted a double as Vitesse beat NAC 3-0 in the Gelredome on Saturday to stay hot on the heels of PSV and Ajax.
Bony opened the scoring inside 20 minutes by meeting Gael Kakuta’s cross and heading past Jelle ten Rouwelaar.
A defensive mix-up lead to Vitesse’s second five minutes after the restart, when Ten Rouwelaar and Kees Luyckx both failed to clear the ball properly and it fell to Renato Ibarra, who charged down the right side and fired through the goalkeeper and into the net.
The game was tied up just nine minutes later when Bony was on target once again, running onto Guram Kashia’s through ball and holding off the challenge of Luyckx before blasting into the net to make it 29 goals in 26 Eredivisie matches for the Ivorian.
TWENTE 2-0 RODA
Twente interim coach Michel Jansen enjoyed a successful debut in charge of the Enschede side, beating Roda 2-0.
Roda provided a shock last weekend by drawing with title contenders PSV, but they were toothless this week as they succumbed to Twente fairly easily, managing to record just two shots on goal throughout the 90 minutes.
Luc Castaignos scored his side’s first goal on the stroke of half-time, latching onto Leroy Fer’s perfectly weighted through ball and slotting past Filip Kurto with ease.
Twente’s lead was doubled just 11 minutes into the second-half, when Nacer Chadli was found in acres of space at the front post and flicked Tim Holscher’s cross in off the post.
ZWOLLE 1-1 RKC
Zwolle now sit four points above the relegation play-offs after they shared the spoils with RKC in a 1-1 draw.
Florian Jozefzoon put the visitors in the lead after just seven minutes, coolly slotting past Zwolle goalkeeper Diederik Boer.
The score was levelled, however, when Youness Mokhtar smashed home from the edge of the area after 21 minutes.
Zwolle enjoyed the better of chances throughout the remainder of the match, almost taking the lead through Fred Benson and Denni Avdic, but both were denied by Jeroen Zoet as the game ended a draw.
Zwolle are now unbeaten in their last four matches at the IJsseldelta Stadion and look increasingly likely to avoid the relegation play-offs this season.
WILLEM II 1-3 PSV
PSV recovered from last week’s draw with Roda to beat bottom club Willem II 3-1 on Saturday and ensure they remain in touching distance with league leaders Ajax.
PSV took the lead through veteran midfielder Mark van Bommel with a fantastic strike from outside the box which flew past David Meul and into the bottom corner.
Jordens Peters equalised for Willem II just nine minutes after the restart, heading in a Marc Hocher cross.
PSV’s lead was restored after 76 minutes by Ola Toivonen, who smashed home after Memphis Depay cut back from the byeline. Then, Timothy Derijck wrapped the game up with eight minutes remaining when Kevin Strootman flicked up Atiba Hutchinson’s cross and the centre-back was there to head past Meul.
UTRECHT 1-0 ADO
Jens Toornstra scored the only goal of the game as he secured three points for Utrecht in a 1-0 win over his old team ADO at the Galgenwaard on Sunday.
Utrecht got off to a bright start and should have taken the lead in the first-half through Jacob Mulenga, who had two half-chances but failed to take either.
ADO began to see more of the ball as the first period wore on and Mike van Duinen could have scored but for Robbin Ruiter’s hand which kept out the striker’s headed effort.
The solitary goal came when Nana Asare diverted Mark van der Maarel’s cross towards goal but he was denied by Gino Coutinho. The rebound returned to Asare who knocked it across for Toornstra to turn into the net.
GRONINGEN 3-1 HEERENVEEN
Groningen gave their chances of finishing in the Europa League play-off places a massive boost as they beat fellow contenders Heerenveen 3-1.
Robert Maaskant’s side went ahead inside the first three minutes through a Jukka Raitala own goal. Andraz Kirm’s square ball looked a fairly easy one to deal with but the Heerenveen right-back could only smash it into his own net in an attempt to clear the danger.
Leandro Bacuna won and converted a penalty late in the second-half to make it 2-0. Then, Lukas Marecek reduced Heerenveen’s deficit to one goal with 20 minutes left on the clock when Alfred Finnbogason passed to Filip Djuricic inside the box who teed it up for Marecek to blast past Marco Bizot.
With three minutes to go, Michael de Leeuw capped things off with an overhead kick after Heerenveen failed to deal with a corner.
NEC 1-1 AZ
AZ now sit four points above the relegation playoff spots after drawing 1-1 with NEC.
The Alkmaar club took the lead after 17 minutes when 19-year-old Adam Maher collected a Roy Beerens pass and ran towards goal before firing past Gabor Babos.
Alex Pastoor’s men equalised just two minutes later through Kevin Conboy’s superb free-kick which left Esteban with no chance of stopping it.
NEC then went down to ten men when Nick van der Velden was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Giliano Wijnaldum.
Despite the Numerical advantage, AZ couldn't regain their lead but came close in the dying minutes as Aron Johannsson found himself through on goal but his tame effort was an easy one for Babos to deal with.
AJAX 4-0 HERACLES
Frank de Boer’s Ajax maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie with a 4-0 win over Heracles, despite having their goalkeeper sent off early in the second-half.
Lasse Schone gave the Amsterdam outfit the lead after 13 minutes when he played a delightful one-two with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson before smashing it past Remko Pasveer.
The hosts went down to ten men when goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer charged off his line and chopped down Heracles striker Geoffrey Castillion outside the box, leaving the referee with no choice but to dismiss the Netherlands international.
Despite being a man light, it was Ajax who were next to score as the Heracles defence failed to deal with a long ball and Sigthorsson was there to smash it in, first hitting it off the bar before following it up to knock it over the line to ensure the goal was given.
Substitute Ryan Babel put the game beyond doubt, combining with Schone before diverting into the net, and then Christian Eriksen made it 4-0 with a magnificent curling strike from a tight angle after 84 minutes.