• Tuesday, 14 April 2009

    AZ on the brink: Eredivisie reviews

    NAC 0-1 AZ
    De Graafschap 2-2 NEC
    Den Haag 1-2 Sparta
    PSV 2-0 Utrecht
    Twente 4-2 Roda
    Heerenveen 1-0 Volendam
    Ajax 7-0 Willem II
    Feyenoord 5-1 Heracles
    Groningen 2-3 Vitesse

    AZ kicked off the weekend with a win over NAC that put them within sniffing distance of the title. It's fair to say that they've not been at their fluent best as the prospect of only their second ever title gets ever closer and that was very much the case here. It took Moussa Dembele's fine individual effort twenty minutes from time to break the deadlock after a first half in which they hardly created a chance of note. The win heaped pressure on both Twente and Ajax to maintain their increasingly slim title hopes by winning. Should both fail, AZ would be champions. However, both won, meaning that a point next week will be enough for the Alkmaarders. Twente got past troubled Roda JC. Still without Blaise N'Kufo, Steve McClaren's side made light of his absence in hitting four goals with N'Kufo's deputy Romano Denneboom opening the scoring. Laurent Delorge equalised, but goals from defenders Douglas Franco and Slobodan Rajkovic and winger Eljero Elia put Twente into a comfort zone that Sekou Cissé's late effort couldn't spoil. If Ajax were under pressure, then it didn't show as they ran Willem II ragged. Luis Suarez bagged a hat-trick and Ajax were five up by half-time. Dario Cvitanich started the rout in the second minute and grabbed the third as well with Eyong Enoh's effort sandwiched between. Suarez's first and one from Urby Emanuelsson saw Ajax turn round five to the good and Suarez hit two more after the break to complete the rout. His third came from the penalty spot after he was felled by Angelo Martha who saw red for his indiscretion, completing a miserable afternoon for the Tilburgers.

    Down at the bottom, De Graafschap secured a point which sees them switch places with Volendam - beaten 1-0 by Heerenveen. A Ben Sahar double gave De Graafschap the lead with quarter of an hour to go, but Tim Janssen and, with four minutes remaining, Lasse Schöne squared it up. Heerenveen had Danijel Pranjic sent off late on against Volendam, but Viktor Elm had already given them a 1-0 lead which they held onto despite their numerical disadvantage. That maintains Heerenveen in the second automatic Europa League spot with PSV breathing down their necks. They eased past Utrecht 2-0 with Carlos Salcido and Timmy Simons, from the penalty spot, getting the goals. Groningen look safe in the Europa League play-offs despite going down to Vitesse. Lasse Nilsson put Vitesse ahead only for Goran Lovre to level it up on the stroke of half-time. Civard Sprockel and Rocky van Wolfswinkel put Vitesse into a comfortable lead and Groningen could only pull one back, Danny Holla scoring with eighteen to go. Breda and NEC make up the other sides in the play-off places, but Utrecht and Feyenoord remain in the frame. Feyenoord hit five against Heracles at De Kuip, Roy Makaay getting a hat-trick. His first two put Feyenoord 2-0 ahead before Bas Dost pulled one back, but it was one-way traffic in the second half. Denny Landzaat increased the lead before Makaay completed his treble from the spot and Kelvin Leerdam completed the scoring. Heracles now lie just three points above the relegation places.

    Sparta won a crucial game against Den Haag that leaves ADO just two points from safety while pulling Sparta clear, for now at least. Two late goals saved Sparta who looked to be heading for defeat to Richard Knopper's 25th minute goal. Five minutes later, Sparta were down to ten when Jerold Promes was booked a second time and duly dismissed, but four minutes from time, Timothy Derijck put through his own net for the equaliser before Ayodele Adeleye headed in a dramatic late winner as ADO failed to clear their lines.

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