• Friday, 19 February 2010

    Groenendijk out as NEC move up: Eredivisie reviews

    NEC 4-2 NAC
    Vitesse 1-2 Twente
    Den Haag 3-0 Willem II
    Heerenveen 0-2 Ajax
    AZ 2-0 Roda
    Utrecht 0-0 Feyenoord
    Groningen 2-1 Waalwijk
    Heracles 0-1 PSV
    Sparta 2-0 VVV Venlo
    NEC 2-1 Willem II

    Contrasting fortunes for Willem II and NEC as they played twice in the week, against each other on Wednesday in the one remaining game to catch up on. NEC are suddenly on a great run, coinciding with the return of Bjorn Vleminckx from suspension. Just a few weeks ago, they were mired in the relegation battle, but after wins over NAC - Bram Nuytinck on target twice as they came from behind - and Willem II - Ramon Zomer and Vleminckx with goals just before half time - sees them just five points off the Europa League play-off places. By contrast, Willem II now look certainties to go down. Stefan Nijland's last minute goal was nowhere near enough to get anything out of the game with NEC and that followed a crushing defeat to fellow strugglers Den Haag last week. Ricky van den Bergh struck twice in an easy 3-0 win for ADO, but it was the NEC game that forced the board of the Tilburg club to act and put Alfons Groenendijk out of a) his misery and b) a job. Mark Schenning takes charge ahead of a tough trip to Enschede to take on Steve McClaren's high-flying Tukkers.

    Twente got back to winning ways, but they left it late against Vitesse. Paul Verhaegh put the Arnhemers ahead early in the second half and that looked like being enough until Bryan Ruiz struck eight minutes from the end and Ronnie Stam won it in stoppage time. PSV stay out in front thanks to yet another 1-0 win - Ola Toivonen heading the winner against Heracles. Ajax also won against ten man Heerenveen to keep their hopes alive. Christian Grindheim was sent off twenty minutes from the end with the score at 1-0 - Dennis Rommedahl with another in this Indian summer in his career - and Luis Suarez wrapped it up late on. Feyenoord lost more ground and fourth looks the height of their ambition following their 0-0 draw in Utrecht. The game only notable for the referee calling a halt to proceedings for a time after undue abuse from the crowd.

    I think we can say that Waalwijk are down. If not actually, then at least in their minds, RKC are gone. Another loss last weekend, Groningen pulling themselves up the table, and a red card for Charlison Benshop adds to the misery. Sparta keep their heads above the nasty red line on the table with a win over VVV Venlo, Joshua John in the first minute setting them on their way and not suffering too much after Donovan Slijngard was sent off. AZ won, but Europa League play-offs are as good as they will get. Pa-Modou Kah's own goal put them in front against Roda and Rasmus Elm sealed it.

    This week:

    Roda v Heracles
    NAC v Utrecht
    Waalwijk v Heerenveen
    VVV Venlo v AZ
    NEC v Groningen
    Feyenoord v Den Haag
    Ajax v Vitesse
    PSV v Sparta
    Twente v Willem II

    Wins in prospect for all the top three, all of them at home. Twente have the easiest task on paper against managerless Willem II while PSV have Sparta and Ajax play Vitesse. Differing fortunes in Europe for the trio, Ajax and PSV losing to Juventus and Hamburg respectively while Twente beat Werder Bremen, but they should all be too good for their opponents this weekend. At the bottom, Heerenveen can knock that first nail in for Waalwijk while Den Haag are at Feyenoord in what looks a stonewall 0-0 draw.

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