Eredivisie week 32: Ajax almost champions, Willem II almost relegated

Goals, goals, goals. A season high of 39 goals was scored this weekend (Stat courtesy of Infostrada Sports and brought to our attention by Simon Gleave), with the Grolsch Veste and the Philips Stadion the two venues offering the best value for their money with seven goals in the respective games they hosted. In all fairness, it is not too unlikely the ticket prizes were highest for these games, so it could well be that the euro per goal ratio in another game was more attractive.

One game that certainly didn’t offer the best prize was NAC Breda  – Ajax. After last week’s little set-back (1-1 draw against SC Heerenveen), a win for the Amsterdammers was necessary to all but secure the title. A 0-2 win over the Bredanaren sufficed, although it wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline might suggest. After a few good chances in the first half for NAC, it was Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson who broke the deadlock in the 47th minute. Five minutes later, an own goal by Tim Gilissen left NAC undone. An Ajax-victory at home against Willem II (who are bottom of the table) next week will be enough to decide Ajax’s and Willem II’s faith with one becoming champions and the others relegated.

Willem II got in this position mainly because of the 31 previous fixtures, but this 32nd game of the league season was hardly helping the Tricolores getting out of relegation trouble. Away against Vitesse they were 3-0 down after 50 minutes, with Mike Havenaar, Wilfried Bony (naturally) and Marco van Ginkel scoring the goals for the Arnhemmers. Former Vitesse player Gennaro Snijders gave Vitesse a bit of a scare, pulling one back in the 78th minute. With their complete collapse two weeks ago in mind, (giving up a 3-0 lead versus Roda JC, drawing 3-3) the last 12 minutes were somewhat of a nervy affair. However, Vitesse managed to keep the Tilburgers at bay and the 3-1 meant Willem II are all but relegated.

Especially because the only team that still is mathematically surpassable, VVV-Venlo took a point off ADO Den Haag (1-1). The Venlonaren opened the score through Uwe Nwofor in the 14th minute and  dreamt of victory for 70 minutes. ADO Den Haag-attacker Mike van Duinen however made the home crowd cheer, scoring the equalizer in the 84th minute. VVV will be happy with the result though, the gap with Willem II is now four points with only two games to go and VVV can start preparing themselves for the relegation play-offs.

Roda JC, who occupy the final relegation playoff spot, gave their survival hopes a boost by beating RKC Waalwijk. Two own goals of RKC (goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet was unlucky to see a Mitchell Donald-shot against the post land on him and roll into his own goal, while Guy Ramos deflected a shot by Arnaud Sutchuin) sandwiched an 18th league goal of Syrian striker Sanharib Malki. Nourdin Boukhari scored a consolation goal in the 89th minute. The result sees Roda nearing 15th placed RKC to one point.

PEC Zwolle have to wait another week before they finally can confirm their Eredivisie status for next season. The side that attracted praises from our own Peter McVitie lost 1-2 against Utrecht. Mike van der Hoorn assisted Utrecht captain Nana Asare with a superb pass and the Ghanaian made no mistake in opening the score. Zwolle then equalized through former Utrecht player Joost Broerse, but had to concede a defeat after youngster Elroy Pappot was put through by Jens Toornstra. Zwolle fell to 13th place, while Utrecht remain 6th, an incredible fifteen points ahead of 7th placed SC Heerenveen.

The gap was twelve points before the weekend, but where Utrecht won their match, SC Heerenveen took a beating from AZ Alkmaar, who overtook Zwolle to take over 12th place. In their own stadium, the Frisians were put to place by a marvellous Jozy Altidore, who opened the score and closed the game as well, assisting Gudmondsson in between, while the Icelandic winger on his turn had assisted Roy Beerens earlier. The game finished 4-0 and especially the last goal was a cracker, as the American striker smashed in a free-kick.

So far, the underwhelming scorelines. ‘Only four goals per game? Pah! We have better than that!’
We really do.

First, Feyenoord – Heracles Almelo. The Rotterdammers overran the Heracles team managed by former Feyenoord player Peter Bosz from minute one, but it took until minute nineteen before the score was finally opened. It was John Goossens who opened the score with an absolute thunderous free-kick, scoring the first direct free-kick for Feyenoord this season. Italian phenomenon Graziano Pelle then took his tally to 25 league goals by smashing the ball in from just outside the box. Lex Immers was on the end of a Darryl Janmaat assist scoring the 3-0 and the misery for Heracles held on: Just before half-time, goalkeeper Remko Pasveer was sent off for bringing down winger Ruben Schaken. Graziano Pelle made no mistake, scoring his 26th goal in 27 league games. In the second-half, wingers Ruben Schaken and again John Goossens scored to make the final scoreline 6-0.

The result kept Heracles in ninth place, while Feyenoord remained third on goal difference, as joint-second placed PSV won comprehensively against form-team Groningen. Tim Matavz opened the score against his former club after three minutes after a Dries Mertens assist and some sloppy defensive play of the away team. It was his first goal after a thirteen game goal drought. Only two minutes later, Magnasco brought down Dries Mertens in the box. The Belgian earned a penalty and decided to take the spot-kick himself. The finish was impeccable, 2-0. The little wing-wizard continued his show by assisting Jeremain Lens, skipping past Groningen defender Timo Letschert and sending Lens deep. Lens smashed the ball into the close corner. 3-0, thirteen minutes played. At half-time, it was 5-0. But the two goals scored in the five minutes before the break were controversial to say the least. First, Matavz fouled Kieftenbeld, allowing Mark van Bommel to score a daisy-cutter from outside the box. After that, a Mertens free-kick was parried by Groningen goalkeeper Marco Bizot but Lens tapped the rebound in from an offside position.
Groningen manager Robert Maaskant was furious and was, during the break, sent to the stands by referee Ruud Bossen.  The second-half saw Michael de Leeuw pull two back for Groningen, meaning the game ended in 5-2. Both remained in their respective positions in the league standings. Groningen look good for a Europa League play-off spot at the moment, sitting eighth with a five point margin on Heracles.

If things stay as they are, Groningen will play Twente, who remain fifth after an average but clinical display against NEC Nijmegen. After three minutes, Douglas was left completely unmarked to head home a corner from Hölscher. Striker Luc Castaignos doubled the advantage after an assist by Nacer Chadli. The elegant Belgian winger made it three for Twente just after the break, before NEC could peg one back through Nick van der Velden. Swedish defender Rasmus Bengtsson scored his first goal for Twente making it 4-1, followed by a very late 4-2 by Erik Falkenburg. The rout was completed by Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez, after good work by again Chadli.

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