With a slip-up last week, Feyenoord kept Ajax hopeful of a title. The Rotterdam club weren’t to be denied a first league title in 18 years though as they dispatched Heracles. Ajax’s win capped off another solid yet disappointing league season, losing out for the third-straight year. Newly-promoted Sparta staved off relegation with a win, but NEC Nijmegen and Roda JC must compete in a relegation playoff to decide their fate. It was an exciting final day in Holland, but how did your team fare?
Twente 3-5 Groningen
We’ll start the recap off with an eight-goal thriller in Enschede on Sunday. Despite not being able to catch Twente in the European playoff zone, the Groningen players put on quite the performance. An early goal from Bryan Linssen gave the away side some confidence, but Dylan George’s header pulled Twente back level before 20 minutes. Oussama Idrissi responded with a curling longshot to gift Groningen the lead again. Idrissi was the hero once more before the half-hour mark; Twente tried to play out from the back, but the attacker won the ball and struck another curling shot from a similar area into the back of the net once more. Twente’s Stefan Thesker’s own goal before half-time basically put the game out of reach at 4-1.
Mateusz Klich scored a penalty in the 64th to halve the deficit, but Groningen’s Alexander Sørloth headed in a cross minutes later to continue the North-Holland side’s rampage. Enes Ünal scored late to make it 5-3, which is the score that it would remain until full time. Twente finish the season in 7th, and a chance at a European birth, which is quite good considering the financial troubles they’ve endured recently. Groningen’s win puts them up to 8th place for the season: not a bad finish but just short of possible European football. Both sides have some exciting young talent to look out for in the coming seasons of Eredivisie action.
ADO Den Haag 4-1 Excelsior
After finding themselves dead-last in the table only months ago, Den Haag proved just how strong they’ve been to turn around their form. Young winger Sheraldo Becker’s low-driven shot on 8 minutes put The Hague ahead of Rotterdam’s smaller side, but the lead would only remain until the 20th minute. Fredy Ribeiro’s unmarked longshot effort found its way to the foot of Jeffry Fortes and into the net. However, ADO’s target man Mike Havenaar regained their lead minutes later with a diving header into an open net.
Abdenasser El Khayati pushed on from his recent goalscoring form when he dribbled by 2 defenders and neatly tucked the ball into the post and in. Ivory Coast international Wilfried Kanon plunged ADO into a 4-1 victory in the second half by nudging home a bouncing ball on the line. You could tell the Excelsior players were exhausted following their victory over Feyenoord last week, but it won’t matter too much as the side finishes in a respectable 12th place. ADO Den Haag finish one above them, in 11th, which is immense considering the horrible mid-season form the club endured.
AZ Alkmaar 2-3 FC Utrecht
Utrecht scraped to a tough win over a strong AZ side on Sunday to cap off an exceptional season domestically. On-loan striker Richairo Zivkovic tapped in Nacer Barazite’s accurate low cross to give Utrecht the lead on 32, and Zakaria Labyad’s 35th-minute free kick doubled the score line to stun a home AZ crowd. Utrecht’s Mark van der Maarel scored an unfortunate own goal after halftime, but Barazite restored the 2-goal lead minutes later with a turn and low shot into the net that was executed with an immense level of skill. Alireza Jahanbakhsh headed in a goal to bring the score to 2-3 with 20 minutes remaining, but Utrecht held on for a great away victory on the final day. Utrecht (4th) and AZ (6th) will both take part in the Europa League playoff: a 4-team tournament to decide who will compete in Europe’s second largest club competition next season.
Feyenoord 3-1 Heracles
They’ve done it. Feyenoord have held on to their consistently dominating league form to grant their fans a celebration unseen in almost two decades. It was a straightforward win in Rotterdam; Dirk Kuyt capitalised on a first-minute defensive error and scored with one of the first kicks of the match. About 10 minutes later, Eljero Elia sent in a cross to ask questions of the defence, and that question was answered by the head of Kuyt for his brace. Kuyt completed his hat-trick in the 84th minute with a penalty, and the Feyenoord fans didn’t stop singing despite Peter van Ooijen’s longshot goal late on. Feyenoord are champions of Holland! Well played; they’ve deserved no less. The loss drops Heracles to 10th: a certainly respectable position.
Go Ahead Eagles 1-3 Sparta Rotterdam
There was an air of a changing of the guards between smaller Dutch clubs in Deventer on Sunday between newly-promoted Sparta and soon-to-be relegated Go Ahead Eagles. The home side certainly weren’t outclassed in any sense of the word, but the first goal went to Sparta as Martin Pusic thrust his head onto the ball for the opening goal. The Eagles responded in the 71st minute when Jarchinio Antonia sent in a low cross which Darren Maatsen happily dispatched to equalise.
In the 80th minute, Craig Goodwin’s cross raced towards a stagnant goalkeeper, but Pusic was quickest to the mark and tapped home for his brace. Goodwin got on the scoresheet himself in the closing minutes; his driven free kick evaded the GAE defence and goalkeeper alike to put Sparta up 3-1. You could really see the passion on the faces of Sparta’s players, as a victory ensured safety from relegation. Finishing in 15th place, Sparta avoid having to endure a relegation playoff on goal difference. As previously mentioned, Go Ahead Eagles have been officially relegated for a couple weeks, so I wish them the best of luck in the Jupiler League and their quest for promotion next season.
SC Heerenveen 0-2 NEC Nijmegen
It looks like too little, too late for NEC because, despite their win, the Nijmegen side are bound for a relegation playoff place along with Roda JC. That being said, NEC’s performance was solid on Sunday against a strong Heerenveen squad. Young winger Arnaut Groeneveld shrugged off a defender in the 23rd minute to free himself up one-on-one with the keeper, a situation in which he took full advantage of with a goal under the keeper’s reach. Taiwo Awoniyi doubled NEC’s lead mid-way through the second half with a header following a corner.
Heerenveen had the possession and shots advantage, but NEC showed heart to defeat them in an away match. Heerenveen drop to 9th, out of a European challenge position, and a slightly disappointing finish for a club of their stature. (Sam Larsson transfer, anyone?) As stated, NEC will enter the fray to compete for their lives against relegation.
Willem II 1-3 Ajax
Ajax came up short in the hunt for the league title, but their final day performance was the epitome of their season. The starting lineup was an Eredivisie-record average age of only 20. Twenty. Ajax largely controlled the affair, but their breakthrough only occurred in the 38th minute. Justin Kluivert found himself in acres of space on the left, which allowed him to send in an accurate cross in front of the net for Kasper Dolberg to tap home. After the break, Davinson Sánchez became the joint-top goal-scoring defender in the league with his 6th Eredivisie goal: a header from a corner routine. Kluivert got his second assist of the night by skipping by a sliding challenge near the box, followed by a dangerous cross for captain Davy Klaassen to smack back into the net.
Ajax were denied a clean sheet thanks to Jari Schuurman’s 81st minute low strike into the corner. The Amsterdammers finish one-point shy of a league title, but a Europa League final on the horizon will give fans a renewed hope following the loss of the title to Feyenoord. Willem drop to 13th in the table, not the best showing from the squad but clear of any relegation scare.
PSV Eindhoven 4-1 PEC Zwolle
PSV finished off a solid yet unspectacular season with a victory over Zwolle. The result was anything but easy, as goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet spilt a ball which was then hit into an open net by Ted van de Pavert. PSV dominated the ball, as one would expect, but their first goal didn’t actually come until the 78th minute. Hector Moreno equalled Davinson Sánchez’s tally of 6 goals for a defender with his header to bring PSV equal. Fellow defender Santiago Arias drove PSV into the lead a mere minute later with a technical goal on his left foot.
Young striker Sam Lammers struck a beautifully calculated longshot into the bottom left corner in the 85th minute to seal the victory for PSV, and Bart Ramselaar completed the win with a slotted goal following Oleksandr Zinchenko’s threaded through ball. PSV’s third-placed finish is disappointing for a team going for a third-straight league victory, but the club from Eindhoven were always going to have a tough time against the powerhouses of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Zwolle finish the season in 14th; nothing really more to say besides a job well done on a relegation avoidance.
Vitesse 3-0 Roda
Ricky van Wolfswinkel started the match off by doing what he does best: scoring, with his tap in coming in the third minute. Roda didn’t have a reply, and in the 80th minute, Alexander Büttner found himself 2v1 with the keeper and, unselfishly, dispatched the ball to none other than van Wolfswinkel for his brace. In added time, Chelsea-loanee Lewis Baker chipped the keeper to complete the victory.
Roda gave it their all, but the side’s lack of a top goalscoring presence proved decisive in a losing relegation battle. The club aren’t definitely relegated, but instead, join the relegation playoff with NEC as their 17th place finish requires. Vitesse jump above AZ on the final day with the win, into a very good 5th place.
I would love to thank everyone who has read these wrap-ups this season. In an age of mass technology and instant gratification, these scores are mostly widespread by the time this article reaches your timeline. Next season will see a revamp in the format and style of these articles, so in the meantime, you may contact me on Twitter @adiek22 for any suggestions, questions, or if you’d simply like to chat about football. Your support means the world not only to me, but everyone working hard at Falbros Media Group to provide readers with interesting, fun-to-read articles on a daily basis.
Once again, congratulations to Feyenoord and every one of their supporters around the world!