Eredivisie Round 29: No mistakes from Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord or Vitesse

Feyenoord 1 – 0 VVV
Vitesse 3 – 0 NAC Breda
PEC Zwolle 1 – 1 RKC
FC Twente 2 – 0 Roda JC
Willem II 1 – 3 PSV
FC Utrecht 1 – 0 ADO Den Haag
FC Groningen 3 – 1 Heerenveen
NEC 1 – 1 AZ
Ajax 4 – 0 Heracles

Things kicked off at Friday between Feyenoord and VVV Venlo. Although this looked a mismatch on paper, the Rotterdammers struggled to get grip of the game. With VVV creating some decent chances and Feyenoord appearing rather timid, the first half was barely watchable. After the break, the hosts did appear a bit more driven but VVV continued to create. In the end, birthday-boy Joris Mathijsen assisted none other than Graziano Pellè, who headed home for his 22th league goal of the season. It was also the tenth occasion on which he had opened the scoring. VVV were unable to claw back the deficit and the game petered out into an uninspiring but much-needed win for the home team. Feyenoord had moved second for the time being.

Pellè’s goal saw him come closer to Eredivisie top goalscorer Wilfried Bony but the Ivorian responded in kind, helping Vitesse to a comfortable win over NAC. A cross by Gael Kakuta meant ‘Daddy Cool’ could head in the opener. It meant he had scored for the eigth game in a row.  The second half saw Renato Ibarra extend the lead when he got on the end of a counter and Bony himself completed the rout with a devastating shot. The 3-0 victory meant Vitesse was now level on points with league leaders Ajax.

Kenneth Vermeer's red card has sparked a mini goalkeeping crisis at Ajax. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Kenneth Vermeer’s red card has sparked a mini goalkeeping crisis at Ajax. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

They did however drop to third position a couple of hours later, because PSV won though they made heavy weather against a massively understrength Willem II.  Even though the bottom club are all but doomed, they went at PSV with much venom.  On the stroke of half-time, PSV finally broke a resistant Willem II. Captain Mark van Bommel hit a 30-yarder and keeper David Meul didn’t make the best of it. 0-1. After the break, Willem II tried to get back in it though and surprisingly enough, they did. A cross by Marc Höcher was converted by Jordens Peters. Just when de Tricolores were getting their hopes up, PSV scored again. In the 76th minute, substitute Memphis Depay played in Ola Toivonen, who blasted the ball home from inside the box. Belgian defender Timothy Derijck put the game to bed a few minutes later to ensure that PSV’s fate remains in their own hands, with Ajax coming to visit next week.

Speaking of Ajax, a comfortable 4-0 victory over Heracles Almelo on Sunday restored their three point margin at the top.  Sigthorsson missed a glorious chance early on and Moisander had a goal ruled out for offside. Heracles were punished soon after when Schöne combined with Sigthorsson and the Dane finished the move. Ajax didn’t stop there and Sigthorsson had another good chance in the 25th minute, while Fischer missed a good chance only few minutes later. However, the Amsterdam club got a bit complacent and gifted Castrillion a great chance, but Alderweireld came to the rescue.

In the second half,  Vermeer was sent off for a late sliding challenge on Castrillion. Luckily for Ajax, Sigthorsson was fast to give Ajax a safe 2-0 margin. Only minute after, the Amsterdam Arena had a big scare following a collision between Ricardo Van Rhijn and Jasper Cillesen, the goalkeeper who had replaced Vermeer. He was fine after treatment, and sub Ryan Babel scored his second since returning from injury. To round it off, playmaker Eriksen scored an absolute beauty, curling the ball in the top corner from outside the sixteen yard box. The 4-0 left manager Peter Bosz fuming. ‘I thought we were ridiculous after Ajax came with 10 men. Childish defending. ‘

Heracles saw themselves overtaken by FC Groningen, who won ‘de Derby van het Noorden’ very convincingly, beating SC Heerenveen 3-1, with young Chilean right-back Stefano Magnasco as their man of the match. After two minutes, Finnish defender Jukka Raitala was very unfortunate to slide the ball into his own goal after a low cross by Groningen’s Andraz Kirm. The Groningers kept applying pressure and after three minutes before half-time, the second came too. Leandro Bacuna sought contact with his man and Joey Van den Berg made it. Bacuna went down and the ref blew. Van den Berg was lucky to not get his second yellow in quick succession. Bacuna himself slotted the ball home and when both teams went into the dressing room, Groningen received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Leandro Bacuna helped FC Groningen win the derby with Heerenveen. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Leandro Bacuna helped FC Groningen win the derby with Heerenveen. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Groningen pressed on with Magnasco setting up Michael De Leeuw, but the header of the Groningen player was kept out by keeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt. Heerenveen were a shadow of the team that saw them win five on the trot before this game, but there was a glimmer of hope for the Frisians when they scored the 2-1 in the 70th minute. Czech midfielder Lukas Marecek, who is on loan from Anderlecht, slotted home from close range Filip Djuricic’s cutback. Groningen were lucky not to concede a penalty in the build-up, but were punished anyway.  Suddenly, Heerenveen were now on top and pushing for the equalizer, but five minutes from time, an artistic bicycle kick from close range from De Leeuw meant a 3-1 victory for FC Groningen.

FCG are now level on points with ninth placed ADO Den Haag, who lost their third game in a row, away at FC Utrecht. A game hardly worth watching saw former ADO man Jens Toornstra settling the score, by scoring a rebound after a Nana Asare assist. The 1-0 victory meant Utrecht kept pace with FC Twente, who finally won again. Luc Castaignos opened the score against Roda JC with a composed finish after a delicious through ball by Leroy Fer. In the second half, Nacer Chadli scored with a header to make it 2-0 after a cross by Hölscher. It leaves the Limburgers in big trouble and while Willem II are the most likely to get relegated, Roda can start to focus on the relegation play-offs by the looks of it.

The three clubs above Roda all gained a point, which means they are still level, but now four points above the danger zone. Florian Jozefzoon opened the score for RKC  in Zwolle but Younnes Mokhtar equalized fifteen minutes later. Both teams had good chances to take the lead, but in the end, a 1-1 draw was probably deserved. AZ gained a point in Nijmegen, drawing 1-1 against NEC.  A goal by AZ’s golden boy Adam Maher opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Only two minutes later though, Kevin Conboy scored a terrific free kick, bending the ball into the top right corner, leaving AZ-goalkeeper Esteban without a chance. Though ex-AZ midfielder Nick van der Velden was sent off and debutant Aron Johansson should have won it, a draw was a fair result.

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