With only 3 games left following this weekend’s run of fixtures, Holland’s Eredivisie is certainly reaching the end of an exciting season. Across the board, teams are fighting to reach their goals before it’s too late. Much of the attention has been drawn to the fight at the top, a fight that has been dwindled down to a one point difference following Ajax’s Klassieker triumph over Feyenoord. The relegation battle realistically involves seven teams, in what is shaping up to be a superb fight to avoid the drop. How did your team do this weekend?
Heracles 1-2 AZ Alkmaar
AZ striker Wout Weghorst continued his fine form with a 53rd-minute tap-in, following a failed clearance by the Heracles to give his side the lead. Only a couple minutes later, Joris van Overeem missed a glorious chance on a counterattack that would’ve doubled the away side’s advantage. It didn’t come back to haunt them though, as Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s great dribble and low shot put AZ up by two with 10 minutes remaining. Heracles’s Brandley Kuwas scored another amazing free-kick with a screamer from way outside the box but, it was too little too late. AZ put an end to their run of three matches without a win and remain in 6th, while Heracles’s European hopes are basically over as they sit in 9th place.
Roda JC 3-1 Sparta Rotterdam
On a weekend where 2nd division club VVV Venlo confirmed their promotion to the Eredivisie, Roda and Sparta battled to see who would be sent into the relegation zone. It proved to be Roda who claimed the advantage. Abdul Ajagun made a smart run to the near post and headed in Mikhail Rosheuvel’s cross with just under 15 minutes gone. Midfielder Tom Van Hyfte stepped up and struck a longshot against the bar in first-half added time, but Ajagun got his brace in the second half when Mark Dijkstra miskicked a cross into the path of the attacking midfielder. Sparta substitute Thomas Verhaar tried to inspire the away side with a beautiful effort from the top of the box, but Rosheuvel’s late tap-in ensured Roda won the game 3-1. Roda JC leap over Sparta with the win: 2 points ahead of Sparta and 2 points out of the relegation zone.
ADO Den Haag 1-1 PSV Eindhoven
PSV’s title hopes are basically down to nil after dropping points at ADO on Saturday. Davy Pröpper’s early goal made it seem like this wouldn’t be the case, but they couldn’t grab another despite dominating in possession and shots. Mike Havenaar scuffed a superb chance in front of goal, but the striker made up for it by heading in a rebound with three minutes to go, salvaging a point against the 3rd placed team. While ADO move up to 12th (4 points above relegation), PSV look like 3rd place will be their final position.
Excelsior 1-0 Vitesse
Vitesse visited Excelsior in fine form, which made Nigel Hasselbaink’s 13th-minute opener a surprise to all. Excelsior have been known to cause an upset or two in recent months though, and they held on despite Vitesse’s best efforts to get high-scoring Ricky van Wolfswinkel on the score sheet. It must be said that Excelsior struck the post twice before scoring early, so the result is certainly not a fluke in any form. Excelsior climb away from the relegation zone in 14th, while Vitesse maintain their position in 5th.
Twente 3-0 NEC Nijmegen
Young striker Enes Ünal scored his 16th and 17th goals for Twente this season in a rout of out-of-form NEC. Ünal struck early with a header from a corner, before turning provider, when he played a one-two with young Finnish midfielder Fredrik Jensen, who struck a magnificent goal to double the lead. Man City loanees Bersant Celina and Ünal linked up in added time when Celina fed through the Turkish striker, who continued on to curl the ball over the keeper and into the left side of the net. NEC have lost their last six matches, putting them down to 17th. Twente are looking like they’re in a European spot for next season with their current place of 7th.
Willem II 2-0 Go Ahead Eagles
Go Ahead Eagles basically ensured their Eredivisie demise on Sunday with a loss to mid-table Willem II. While Go Ahead Eagles had a few good chances in the first half, they couldn’t capitalize and the home side punished them. Substitute Fran Sol scored a header from a Jordy Croux lofted cross before fellow substitute Jari Schuurman scored on the volley following a set piece. Willem stay in 11th while Go Ahead Eagles, as previously mentioned, languish in dead-last and look set for relegation.
Feyenoord 2-0 Utrecht
The current leaders had a few good chances early against a quality Utrecht side but couldn’t score until the second half. Defender Eric Botteghin played a great long pass up to Nicolai Jørgensen, who headed down to Jens Toornstra for a volleyed goal. It was a beautiful play that showed just why Feyenoord are top of the league with only four games left. Eljero Elia finished off the match by cutting in from the left and curling a superb effort into the goal with his right foot. Feyenoord staved off dropping points and rested easy knowing they’d still be leaders even if Ajax won later. Utrecht remain in 4th, a solid position for the club.
FC Groningen 5-1 PEC Zwolle
Zwolle put forth a rather embarrassing performance, following their draw with Feyenoord last weekend. Bryan Linssen got the home side off to a good start in the 14th minute with a sliding effort into the bottom corner, before Mimoun Mahi tapped in Oussama Idrissi’s low cross five minutes later. Linssen got his second by heading home Idrissi’s corner a little bit before halftime: a half of amazing football from Groningen. Nicolai Brock-Madsen pulled one back for the guests when he poked home a corner, but Mahi scored his second on a counterattack with great control and a low finish. Substitute Ajdin Hrustic scored from range for Groningen to cap off a brilliant performance from the 10th-placed team. Zwolle now find themselves in a relegation battle, three places above Sparta in 13th.
Ajax 5-1 Heerenveen
The Amsterdammers kept pace with Feyenoord with a big win over Heerenveen on Sunday. On-fire Reza Ghoochannejhad struck an early goal for the visitors that sent Feyenoord fans far and wide cheering, but that happiness wouldn’t last. Nick Viergever scored from a corner with his chest before young centre-back Matthijs de Ligt showed his attacking knowledge with a run towards goal to finish off a play he made himself. Davy Klaassen scored in an open net to end a good comeback in the first half for Ajax. On his return from injury, Kasper Dolberg scored a penalty that he earned himself in the second half. New signing David Neres scored to finish off the game by side-stepping the keeper and slotting in the net. Ajax maintain their one-point deficit behind Feyenoord, while Heerenveen are now 5 points out of a European place following two straight losses.
The league table is starting to finalize, with only three matches per team following this weekend. The battle for the championship maintains its intrigue, as Feyenoord visit Vitesse next weekend and Ajax visit PSV in Eindhoven. It should be two tough tests for this season’s two best teams; I definitely recommend tuning into both. The relegation battle should be a good one also, as NEC v Excelsior and Sparta v ADO both have implications at the bottom of the table next week. Thank you for reading and stay tuned until next week!