Eredivisie Round 30: Ajax beat PSV while Feyenoord and Vitesse drop points
Well, that was quite an anti-climax, with Ajax beating PSV and Vitesse (3-3 away at Roda JC) as well as Feyenoord (1-1 away at RKC Waalwijk) dropping points. The Amsterdam club is now five points clear of nearest rivals Vitesse with four games to go, with Feyenoord and PSV a further point behind. Luckily, those three still have a battle for the Champions League qualifying spot. On their respective games, match reports can be found here (general) and here (tactical) for the PSV – Ajax game, while Feyenoord’s result is assessed here by Jens van Pieterson.
Perhaps the biggest shock, though, was Roda JC – Vitesse. The Arnhem side were looking comfortable against 17th placed Roda JC, after Japanese striker Mike Havenaar scored two to put the them in front before half-time and when Wilfried ‘Daddy Cool’ Bony netted his 30th league goal of the season in the 55th minute, the game seemed over. However, Bony wasn’t so cool a few minutes later, when he lost possession and saw team mate Jan-Arie Van der Heijden handling the cross that came after the counter-attack the Ivorian striker accidentally ignited. Sanharib Malki converted the resultant penalty to give the Kerkrade faithful some hope. The feeling Roda could still get something out of it was only enhanced in the 70th minute when Bournemouth loanee and tall striker Frank Demouge tapped in Guus Hupperts’ low cross. Roda pushed on in the last 20 minutes and got their reward in the 90th minute as midfielder Mitchell Donald scored a rebound after Vitesse captain Guram Kashia was unlucky to head the ball onto his own goal frame. The comeback could give Roda a significant confidence boost in anticipation of the relegation play-offs, as participation in that seems inevitable. Vitesse will have a hard task facing rivals Feyenoord next week in De Kuip and while the title seems gone for them, they are still well in the mix for the Champions League-spot which they currently occupy.
The other five games all held a certain importance too, starting with struggling VVV, who hosted PEC Zwolle in the traditional Friday game of the Eredivisie weekend. The latter gave their hopes of survival a massive boost as they beat the Venlo club 2-0. Fred Benson scored the first chance of the game as he picked up the loose ball from a defensive error down the left wing and cut inside before tucking it past VVV goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa. As the game wore on, it looked like it could have gone either way as both sides created some chances. But Benson killed it off in the second half as he took on a Wiljan Pluim through ball which the VVV defence failed to deal with before slamming it into the net to seal the three points for Zwolle. The result leaves VVV-Venlo nine points off safety and the Venlonaren must ready themselves for relegation play-offs. With Roda drawing with Vitesse, Zwolle are now six points clear of the bottom three.VVV-Venlo will take consolation in the fact that their chances of direct relegation slimmed further, as Willem II lost 3-2 to SC Heerenveen. As the scoreline suggests, it wasn’t a walk in the park for the Frisians though and they had to come from behind to secure the three points in the Abe Lenstra Stadion. Willem II surprisingly dominated the game from the early stages and took the lead in superb style through Ricardo Ippel who fired Kristoffer Nordfeldt’s punch straight back and beyond him with a fantastic volley from the edge of 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.
Alfred Finnbogason then put Heerenveen ahead, knocking in from close range after El Ghanassy had set him up. The Iceland international thought he had made it 3-1 when he put the ball in the net but his goal was chalked off for a push on a defender. Just minutes later, Aurelien Joachim equalised for Willem II as he fired past Nordfeldt with the aid of a deflection. Just as Willem II looked to have secured a vital point, Heerenveen were awarded a penalty for a Philipp Haastrup handball and Finnbogason stepped up to send the resultant penalty beyond David Meul for his 23rd goal of the season. The goal sees the 24-year-old match Graziano Pelle as the second highest scorer in the league while matching the record Petur Petursson set with Feyenoord for the most goals scored by an Icelandic player in a foreign top flight. It may be positives aplenty for Finnbogason and Heerenveen, but it leaves Willem II, on the other hand, all but relegated.While Heerenveen boosted their Europa League play-off hopes which seemed a distant dream just weeks ago and are now firm in seventh place, they have a new side on their tail in the shape of local rivals FC Groningen. The Groningers faced Heracles Almelo and, after a timid first half in which a cat running onto the field was probably the highlight, the deadline was finally broken by Uruguayan striker David Texeira. The Groningen forward surprised Heracles keeper Remko Pasveer with a low shot into the bottom corner from outside the box. Things went from bad to worse for Heracles when Groningen were awarded a penalty, despite Slovenian winger Andraz Kirm being tackled just outside the box. Leandro Bacuna stepped up and put the game beyond doubt for the visitors, who are now on a three match winning streak.
The result means NEC Nijmegen and ADO Den Haag are now outside of the Europa League play-off spots, as they both lost their games. NEC suffered a defeat to NAC in Breda. The main figure in the game was NEC-goalkeeper Gabor Babos, who, against his former and soon-to-be new club (he has already agreed to make the switch to Breda on a free after the season), made two howlers. Firstly, he didn’t make the best of a weak shot of 36-year-old Anthony Lurling preceded by a marvellous dribble. Winger Elson Hooi put the game to bed scoring the 2-0 and again, Babos didn’t look good. The NAC fans rubbed the salt in the wounds of the Hungarian shot stopper with their ‘We love you Babos’ chants and the goalkeeper himself admitted that this was one of the worst games of his life.
ADO Den Haag were rather unlucky against FC Twente. They managed to hold off the Tukkers for 80 minutes, after Mike van Duinen’s goal on the half hour mark cancelled out Douglas’ opener which came just five minutes before. A red card for Danny Holla (two yellows) meant getting a result was only becoming a harder task and in the end, an impossible one. Substitution and former ADO striker Dimitri Bulykin put Twente back in the lead in the 81st minute after good work from Nacer Chadli. Two minutes later, it was again the Russian who popped up to give Alfred Schreuder’s side a comfortable margin.
The result saw Twente take a three point lead over rivals for fifth place FC Utrecht, who were annihilated by an impressive AZ. The drama kicked off in the 27th minute, when Anouar Kali fouled Jozy Altidore in the box, resulting in a penalty for AZ and a red card for Kali. Altidore scored the penalty himself and was back in the same position 6 minutes later. This time Willie Overtoom was brought down by Jan Wuytens who was also shown a second yellow and, with almost an hour to go, Utrecht were two goals and two men down. In the 37th minute, Altidore completed his hat-trick, heading in a cross from Giliano Wijnaldum. Just before half-time, Mike van der Hoorn compiled the misery by scoring one of the most comical own goals you’ll ever see. The second half saw AZ roll towards a comfortable 6-0 victory, with Markus Henriksen and Aron Johansson adding a goal each.
With only four games to go, the Alkmaarders look safe after a terrible season and they’ll be looking to make the most of their Dutch Cup-final versus PSV the 9th of May.
VVV Venlo 0-2 PEC Zwolle
Roda JC 3-3 Vitesse
Heracles 0-2 FC Groningen
NAC Breda 2-0 NEC
ADO Den Haag 1-3 FC Twent
Heerenveen 3-2 Willem II
AZ Alkmaar 6-0 FC Utrecht
RKC Waalwijk 1-1 Feyenoord
PSV 2-3 Ajax