Following last weekend’s 3-2 victory away at PSV Eindhoven it looked for all the world as if Frank de Boer’s Ajax side were going to win their third consecutive Dutch Eredivisie title at little more than a canter, however a disappointing draw at home to Heerenveen on Matchday thirty one has allowed Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven to work their way back into the title race after their respective wins over Vitesse Arnhem and AZ Alkmaar.
Ajax played first with their game against Heerenveen coming on the Friday evening with Frank de Boer hoping to take a nine point advantage into the final three games of the season and it looked as if this would be the case following a strong start from the home side which culminated in a twenty sixth minute opening goal from Viktor Fischer who continued his recent impressive run of form with a diving header just yards out from the Heerenveen goal. Frank de Boer had drummed in the importance of focus against Marco van Basten’s Heerenveen side in the days prior to Friday’s fixture and they looked to have done their job with Ajax keeping possession of the ball well and defending sensibly when required allowing the Amsterdammers to take their one goal lead right up to the fifty third minute when Heerenveen would surprise Ajax with an equalising goal through Alfreð Finnbogason.
Finnbogason finished off a fantastically fluid Heerenveen move which wouldn’t have looked out of place in the red and white of Ajax, with a close guided tap in again just yards from goal to give the Icelander his twenty fourth Eredivisie goal of the season. Ajax would go on to have chances to secure all three points in the remaining half hour with a Christian Eriksen free kick striking the Heerenveen post following a deflection via the head of Niklas Moisander. Ajax gained just one solitary point from their match with Heerenveen following the Amsterdammers’ inability to find a second goal and as a result headed into the weekend seven points ahead of Feyenoord and PSV with the two clubs knowing they could cut the gap down to four points should they win their respective fixtures.
Feyenoord played host to fellow title challengers Vitesse Arnhem with the loser of this fixture more than likely being out of the title race whatever happens, Feyenoord in recent matches haven’t been able to produce their best performances which looked to have cost them in their pursuit of a first title since 1999. Feyenoord after weeks of struggle turned on the style once more against Vitesse with a 2-0 win that out Ronald Koeman’s men right back in the hunt for the title provided Ajax slip up once again their remaining three league fixtures. Graziano Pelle added to his hugely impressive seasonal goal tally of twenty one with a coolly taken penalty in the thirty ninth minute of the first half of play following a half of impressive possession football from Feyenoord.
Vitesse were facing a defence which they could not break down without the services of Wilfried Bony who missed the match and was therefore unable to add to his thirty goal tally for the season with the Ivorian if reports are to be believed playing his last few matches in Dutch football amidst reports of a move to Paris Saint Germain. Feyenoord secured all three points four minutes into the second half when Lex Immers emphatically volleyed home from close range following a deflected Ruben Schaken cross. Manager Ronald Koeman despite the positive performance and result against Vitesse could not hide his disappointment at the way his side have crumbled in recent weeks which could ultimately cost them their chance to be Dutch champions, “For the first time in weeks we showed that we can play good football” Feyenoord hope to put further pressure on fierce rivals Ajax when they host Heracles on the upcoming Matchday thirty two.
PSV Eindhoven joined Feyenoord in being just four points behind Ajax following a 3-1 win away from home against AZ Alkmaar. Mark Van Bommel gave the visitors the lead in the first half through a wonderfully well hit free kick twenty yards away from goal. PSV took the one goal advantage into the break and doubled it just before the hour mark through Dries Mertens who is another playing from the Dutch Eredivisie being linked with a move away with Manchester City being muted as potential suitors for the Belgian wide-man following the indifferent debut season of Scott Sinclair. The three points were sealed for the Eindhoven side when Jeremain Lens made it 3-0 just four minutes later with a neat side footed finish at the near post following some quick footwork from the Netherlands international. AZ Alkmaar were to get a consolation goal just two minutes from time with Aron Johannsson poking in from two yards.
PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord’s respective wins see both clubs sitting in second and third position level on sixty three points with Ajax top, four clear on sixty seven. Ajax on the upcoming Matchday thirty two travel to NAC whilst PSV host FC Groningen with Vitesse Arnhem following their demoralizing defeat at De Kuip host Willem II knowing a Europa League spot for next season is probably the best they can now achieve with just three matches remaining.