The past week has been an exciting one for all involved in Dutch Football. A double-whammy of Eredivisie action saw teams go head-to-head, trying to improve on their season as it comes to a close. Match week 29 ran from Tuesday to Thursday, and match week 30 on the regular Friday to Sunday. Not only did this week provide some thrilling action, it was also a chance for teams to prove their depth with strong performances in both sets of matches. How did your team do this week?
Match Week 29
Excelsior 1-3 Utrecht
Utrecht continued their good form on Tuesday with a solid away win in Rotterdam. It wasn’t the start they imagined, however, as Excelsior’s forward Mike van Duinen scored a great low shot from a tough angle in only the 5th minute. Utrecht struck before halftime when Sébastien Haller scored a penalty he won himself. The away side reversed the scoreline after the break when Willem Janssen’s shot was deflected into the net by Jurgen Mattheij, an own goal. Utrecht kept the pressure on and in the 55th minute Zakaria Labyad struck a longshot against the post, which was then headed by Haller to Gyrano Kerk for a tap in. Excelsior had a penalty shout in the 80th minute when Janssen brought down van Duinen in the box, which was waved away by the official.
Heerenveen 3-0 Sparta Rotterdam
On-fire striker Reza Ghoochannejhad could have put Heerenveen up in the 24th minute as he rounded the Sparta keeper, but his weak effort at goal was cleared off the line. It wasn’t until the second half that the home side got their goal; Pelle van Amersfoort chipped a half-volley over the keeper as he ran to the byline. Their lead was doubled in the 72nd minute when Joost van Aken scored a beautiful reverse-header from a Sam Larsson free kick. Ghoochannejhad got his goal with ten minutes to play by knocking in a rebound.
Heracles 0-1 Vitesse
Vitesse continued their push for a top-four spot against a solid Heracles side on Wednesday. Navarone Foor struck a beautiful curling effort into the far side of the netting right before the half, in what turned out to be the only goal of the match. The score perhaps isn’t indicative of how well Heracles played though, as Heracles’s Reuven Neimeijer’s longshot hit the post in the second half. Heracles registered more shots on target than the away side, but Vitesse made it out of Almelo with all three points in their pockets.
Groningen 2-0 NEC Nijmegen
NEC came up short in their fight against relegation in the battle of two very Dutch-sounding cities. Mimoun Mahi gave Groningen the lead on 30 minutes by striking a low shot after a defensive turnover by NEC. Juninho Bacuna scored a superb long shot off the post in the 67th minute, before hitting the woodwork three minutes later with a free kick. NEC simply didn’t bring their best stuff to Groningen, and the home side were more than happy to defeat them.
Feyenoord 8-0 Go Ahead Eagles
The Eredivisie is typically an evenly-matched league; all teams are competitive with one another. Wednesday’s showdown in Rotterdam was an outlier in that theory, perhaps, as Go Ahead Eagles were picked up and shoved to the ground by top-of-the-league Feyenoord. Jens Toornstra’s early goal gave the Rotterdam faithful something to cheer, but they should’ve conserved their celebrations as there were seven more to come. An Eljero Elia longshot, a Dirk Kuyt first-timer, a Toornstra rebound, and a Jan-Aire van der Heijden tap-in made it 5-0 before halftime. The leaders weren’t satisfied, however, as Gio van Bronckhorst’s men kept pushing for three more goals. Eric Botteghin’s header, Michiel Kramer’s header, and Toornstra’s hat trick confirming volley left the scoreline looking slightly one-sided. What a way to respond to a Klassieker defeat three days prior!
Willem II 1-2 ADO Den Haag
Den Haag have finally found their feet this season, lifting themselves out of the relegation zone with another win on Wednesday. Abdenasser El Khayati’s fake shot allowed him to dribble into the box and neatly finish into the bottom corner in the 21st minute, but Den Haag’s lead didn’t last long. Four minutes later, Pele van Anholt’s header was gathered by ADO’s backup keeper. Or was it? Obbi Oularé latched onto the spilt ball and poked home the equaliser. It didn’t matter in the end, as Mike Havenaar scored with a nice turning move to give the away side the lead before the half. Den Haag held on to secure a precious victory in their fight against relegation.
Ajax 4-1 AZ Alkmaar
The youthful frontline of the Amsterdam club prevailed once more, this time against AZ. Justin Kluivert’s cross found the foot of Bertrand Traoré before it found the back of the net in the 16th minute. The Amsterdam club didn’t make it easy for themselves, conceding in the 55th minute from Wout Weghorst’s header. Goalkeeper André Onana rushed out to clear the ball, but he mistimed it which allowed the striker to loop it over him and in. Ajax clawed back in minute number 71 from a corner. Defender Davinson Sánchez headed the delivery down to his feet, let the ball bounce, and hit a bicycle kick into the goal. It was quite the spectacle; something you don’t see every day from even a world-class striker. Traoré drew a penalty which was dispatched by veteran Lasse Schøne, before Amin Younes scored on a cut inside assisted by Onana himself. Ajax got the three points, but Feyenoord’s win kept the difference at three points.
Roda JC 2-1 PEC Zwolle
Roda achieved a massive win to take them out of the automatic relegation spot on Thursday. It looked as though they were going down 1-0 in the 35th as Queensy Menig pushed the ball past the goalkeeper, but Zwolle’s striker decided to take his time in front of the open net and his shot was cleared with a sliding tackle. What a miss! Menig made up for it five minutes later as a defence-cutting through ball ended with an easy finish for Youness Mokhtar. Roda responded quickly into the second half as Gyliano van Velzen twirled his leg to push the ball into the net. The game seemed done and dusted at 1-1, but Roda’s Beni Badibanga curled a long shot off the bar, which was then headed in by Mikhail Rosheuvel to win the match. You can see how much it meant for the fans as the Roda supporters went absolutely nuts!
Twente 2-2 PSV Eindhoven
PSV’s hopes at a title were all but ended at the hands of Twente’s pair of Manchester City loanees. Enes Ünal gave the home side the lead on seven minutes with a silky dribble and perfect shot into the bottom corner. If you haven’t already, go look it up. That’s the youngster’s 15th league goal of the season and he looks like a superb talent. PSV drew even ten minutes later thanks to Jürgen Locadia’s finessed shot following beautiful passing play by the Eindhoven team. PSV’s Mexican defender Héctor Moreno gave the Dutch Champions the lead in the 51st minute by sliding in to tap a loose ball into the net. Just when PSV thought they’d escaped with the win, Bersant Celina latched onto a through ball in added time and struck a shot that Jeroen Zoet couldn’t save. As Phillip Cocu sat stunned on the bench, Rene Hake’s staff jumped for joy.
Match Week 30
Sparta Rotterdam 2-3 Excelsior
Sparta conceded three for the second straight game which sent them tumbling down towards the relegation zone. Sparta started strong via a Ryan Koolwijk own goal following a corner. Excelsior’s corner of their own saw Nigel Hasselbaink head in the equaliser from close range. Stanley Elbers gave Excelsior the lead by sprinting to a loose ball before Sparta’s defenders, and consequently slid it between keeper Roy Kortsmit’s legs. Hasselbaink got his second goal after halftime with a well-taken shot into the bottom corner. Martin Pusic’s goal gave Sparta a chance in the 86th minute, but the final whistle blew to end the Rotterdam derby in Excelsior’s favour. The win means Excelsior leapfrog Sparta on goal difference, but both clubs are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference as well. It’s shaping up to be an interesting fight against relegation.
Vitesse 4-2 Heerenveen
Navarone Foor struck his second goal of the week as he ran through and slotted under the keeper to put Vitesse up five minutes into the match. It took a mere nine minutes for Vitesse to double the lead; Ricky van Wolfswinkel headed Foor’s corner into the bar and in. Heerenveen’s Luciano Slagveer ran onto Ghoochannejhad’s through ball and knocked it into the keeper and in as he fell down. Van Wolfswinkel made it a brace thanks to Alexander Büttner’s low cross in front of goal. Van Wolfswinkel turned his two into three on 75 minutes by striking home Milot Rashica’s beautiful cross. It was no more than a consolation goal, but Sam Larsson struck home an amazing longshot in the 88th minute to make it 4-2. Heerenveen continue to languish mid-table while Vitesse are a mere five points behind 4th-placed Utrecht.
ADO Den Haag 4-3 Groningen
In a match that was perhaps more one-sided than the scoreline suggests, Den Haag managed a third-straight win to pull them three points away from the relegation zone. Danny Bakker poked home a ball in the box to put Den Haag up, before Dion Malone struck home a cleared ball with the goalkeeper down on the ground. Havenaar really poured it on Groningen with an open header to make it 3-0 only halfway through the first half. ADO kept it up after halftime; Malone got his brace by putting in Aaron Meijers’s cross. Mimoun Mahi dispatched a penalty to pull one goal back, and Bryan Linssen’s pace-filled longshot cut Den Haag’s lead in half. Linssen scored another longshot, this time a low, dribbling shot into the corner in added time. Den Haag held on for a crucial win while Groningen stay in 10th.
NEC Nijmegen 1-5 Ajax
Ajax continued their pursuit of a title in Nijmegen on Saturday against an NEC side realising that relegation is a real threat. David Neres’s cross was turned in for an own goal by Wojciech Golla in the 4th minute, and Neres got himself on the scoresheet with an 8th-minute finish on his stronger left foot. Bertrand Traoré skipped by a defender and scored Ajax’s third goal on 32 minutes to continue his impressive form. Young star Ferdi Kadioglu scored a brilliant chip over Onana, who came all the way out to the edge of his box. The shot was so high up that when Joël Veltman tried to head it away, it just bounced into the roof of the net. It didn’t matter for Ajax in the end as Traoré scored another and Hakim Ziyech finished off the game with a beautiful solo goal: a dribble by three defenders and a poke under the keeper. Now all Ajax could do was hope for Feyenoord to drop points on Sunday.
Go Ahead Eagles 1-4 Heracles
The Eagle’s Elvis Manu was shown a red card in only the 12th minute for a handball in the box, a call that was certainly tough to take but ultimately correct. Thomas Bruns finished the penalty to give Heracles a one goal and one-man advantage early. Samuel Armenteros capitalised on this advantage a mere three minutes later by controlling a rebound on his chest and tapping home. Kristoffer Peterson’s curled effort completed a trifecta of goals for the away side, but to their credit, GAE didn’t stop fighting. Daniel Crowley scored a brilliantly curled longshot only a minute after his side conceded at the other end of the pitch. The moment of brilliance couldn’t spark a fire in the 10-man side, as Armenteros scored a penalty in the 43rd minute to put a cap on the match. Go Ahead Eagles look the part of a relegation-prone side, now five points from safety. Heracles sit mid-table in 9th.
AZ Alkmaar 1-1 Roda JC
Roda claimed a crucial away point against 6th-placed AZ to maintain an unbeaten record in this week’s two matches. Alireza Jahanbakhsh gave AZ the lead in the first half by completing a great run with a well-struck shot. Roda pulled it back minutes later thanks to Daryl Werker’s open header from a corner. AZ kept pounding Roda’s goal, but Benjamin van Leer stunningly made eight saves to salvage a point for Roda. AZ got a penalty in the 71st minute, but van Leer saved from Wout Weghorst. AZ now find themselves five points behind 5th place Vitesse.
PEC Zwolle 2-2 Feyenoord
Oh, baby. It’s happening.
In the 3rd minute Queensy Menig rounded Brad Jones and fired home into the open net, something he couldn’t do against Roda last match. The leaders went down early, how would they react? Danny Holla provided a beautiful ball to put Bram van Polen through on goal, and the right-back finished over Jones to double Feyenoord’s deficit! It looked at the time that Ajax could draw level with the Rotterdam side at the top of the league, but Steven Berghuis had other ideas. The winger dribbled by his man on the flank and struck a shot on his favoured left foot into the back of the net. This was in the 26th minute, and Feyenoord couldn’t find anything else until the second half. Berghuis got the ball outside the box, cut in on his left, and fired a low shot to equalize. Feyenoord couldn’t find a winner and dropped two points, a crucial two points in the title race. With only four matches left, Ajax are only one point behind. Next week will be crucial.
Utrecht 3-0 Twente
Neither side could find a goal in the first half in a match between two quality Eredivisie sides. Nacer Barazite’s perfect cross made it to the head of Gyrano Kerk to give the home side the lead in minute number 62. The roles were reversed only three minutes later as Kerk fed a through ball to Barazite, who struck a hard, low shot into the net. Richairo Zivkovic finished the game off ten minutes later with a low shot that snuck past defenders and under the keeper. Utrecht are on a good run in 4th, while Twente have been slightly inconsistent and find themselves in 7th.
PSV Eindhoven 5-0 Willem II
Andrés Guardado put on a masterclass in Eindhoven on Sunday, providing three assists and a goal in a rout of Willem II. Thom Haye struck a longshot against the bar and in, but it wasn’t ruled a goal by referees. Guardado’s corner delivery to Nicolas Isimat-Mirin gave PSV the lead on halftime, and Guardado delivered another corner assist to Marco van Ginkel after the half. Gastón Pereiro finished off the game with a curling shot with 15 minutes to play, but Guardado’s superb longshot and van Ginkel’s finish bloated the final score. PSV are five points behind Feyenoord, but will look to exploit any dropped points by them or Ajax.
And deep breath.
A great week of action in The Netherlands sets up an exciting battle at both the top and bottom of the table. Ajax are now one point behind Feyenoord, with Heerenveen (Ajax) and Utrecht (Feyenoord) the upcoming opponents. Roda play Sparta next week in a relegation showdown, while PSV make the trip to The Hague to play ADO. Until next time, you can contact me on Twitter: @adiek22.