Ajax took a monumental step towards a third straight Dutch Eredivisie title with their 3-2 victory away to title rivals PSV Eindhoven whilst Vitesse Arnhem and Feyenoord both slipped up in their own respective title bids. Feyenoord travelled to RKC whilst Vitesse were also on their travels as Wilfried Bony and co made the journey to Kerkrade to face Roda JC in one of the most entertaining games the Eredivisie has seen this season.
The standout game of the weekend in terms of the title race however was on Sunday afternoon in Eindhoven with League leaders Ajax facing second placed PSV with just three points separating the two sides prior to kick off at the Philips Stadion. PSV hoped to use all the fanatical energy in and around their stadium pre-match in order to close the gap between themselves and Ajax with just four games left in the League season after this. Ajax travelled to Eindhoven on the back of five straight League wins stretching back to March and Frank de Boer hoped his side would be able to make it six straight wins in order to place a firm grip onto the Eredivisie trophy.
A very even start to the match was put to an end when Ajax took the lead through the in-form Kolbeinn Sigþórsson in the most fortuitous of circumstances with Sigþórsson latching onto a deflection which set him free just six yards away from the PSV goalmouth with the Finnish international firing past Boy Waterman in the PSV goal after just thirty three minutes of play. In what would be the second goal in the most entertaining of matches PSV equalised ten minutes later through Jeremain Lens’ first strike of the afternoon with the Dutch International tapping the ball in from around eight yards out following a smart pass across the box from Kevin Strootman.
Ajax restored their one goal advantage seven minutes into the second half of play through Christian Eriksen after a stereotypically Ajax like passing move down the left hand side of the pitch freed up the Danish international taking out three of PSV’s players in the process before a powerful finish beat Waterman at the near post. However it was to be Jeremain Lens who cancelled out Ajax’s lead for a second time in the sixty ninth minute with Dick Advocaat urging his side to then go and seek a winning goal in the remaining twenty minutes in order to pile the pressure on both Ajax’s defence on the pitch and their lead at the top of the table with both teams knowing the results of Vitesse and Feyenoord’s respective matches earlier that weekend.
PSV’s eagerness to get forward was to cost them with just thirteen minutes left to play when Dirk Boerrigter scoring what was to be the winning goal after a mistake by Erik Pieters allowed Boerrigter to move into a one on one situation against Boy Waterman with the Ajax forward placing the ball comfortably past the goalkeeper from outside the penalty area ensuring Ajax extending their lead over PSV at the top of the table to six points.
After the match PSV Eindhoven manager Dick Advocaat congratulated Ajax on their first half performance “Ajax put in a convincing first-half display and deservedly took the lead but was also very quick to point towards his own teams failings, criticizing his side’s own performance by saying ” I think that was an off-day for every one of us.” Ajax manager Frank de Boer despite the five point lead at the top of the Eredivisie table following his sides win at PSV refused to get carried away stating in his post-match interview “We are doing well and took an important step last but there are still 12 points to play for.”
Feyenoord’s trip to RKC Waalwijk began excellently for the Rotterdammers when Graziano Pelle put the visitors in front after thirteen minutes of play in the first half after Ruben Schaken was brought down inside the RKC penalty area. Feyenoord created a great deal of chances in the first half but as has been a worrying pattern in recent fixtures had very little to show for their vast chance creation. The game began to slow down following the half-time break with Feyenoord’s first half form not carrying over into the second period and they were made to pay for this in the fifty fifth minute when Sander Duits ran through the middle of the pitch before firing a shot from outside the penalty area past Erwin Mulder in the Feyenoord goal to level the match at 1-1 and this was to be the final scoreline with Feyenoord dropping yet more points away from home in a poor run of form which has all bet seen them drop out of the title race sitting six points behind rivals Ajax with just twelve points left to play for.
Mike Havenaar has been arguably one of the most unfortunate player in and around the European game in recent weeks with the Vitesse front man having arguably his best run of form yet has still been overshadowed by the goal scoring exploits of Ivorian Wilfried Bony yet it was Havenaar who bagged a brace in the first half of Vitesse’s visit to Kerkrade with the Japanese born forward registering goals in the twenty sixth and thirty sixth minutes of play. Wilfried Bony then made the score 3-0 ten minutes into the second half with a powerful header into the bottom corner from twelve yards following an impressive leap.
The three points should have been assured for Vitesse however Roda JC were to stage a remarkable twenty seven minute comeback which started in the sixty third minute when Sanharib Malki applied a cool finish from the penalty spot following a Jan-Arie van der Heijden handball. The second goal in the miraculous comeback was to come through Frank Demouge who applied the finish at the back post following a Guus Hupperts low cross and the dramatic equaliser would come at the latest possible moment of the match with Roda JC scoring in the fifth minute of injury time when Mitchell Donald headed into an effectively empty net after Guram Kashia was mightily unlucky after his clearance rebounded of his own post.
Despite this poor result Vitesse Arnhem currently sit 2nd in the Eredivisie table five points behind Ajax with the Arnhem club now in the driving seat for the second Champions League spot if they cannot overturn Ajax at the top of the table.
Matchday 31 sees league leaders Ajax take on Heerenveen at the Amsterdam Arena as the Champions look to go one victory closer to the title whilst Vitesse travel to De Kuip to face Feyenoord with Wilfried Bony looking to register his thirty first League goal of the season. PSV Eindhoven travel to Alkmaar to face AZ with Dick Advocaat hoping his side can attain for in his mind their poor performance against Ajax and hope other results go his way.