At the time of the final whistle, Ajax’s 2-2 draw with AZ looked more like 2 points lost rather than a point gained, but the Amsterdammers now sit just 2 points behind their biggest rivals after a Eredivisie weekend full of upsets.
The biggest story to cover is of course the final match of the 12th round that saw Go Ahead Eagles, last in the table at the time, welcome league leaders Feyenoord. The visitors had more of the ball, but in other statistics, the game was pretty even. Eagles goalie Theo Zwarthoed made a number of important saves, but the biggest moment came on the other side, as Darren Maatsen surprisingly easily took the ball off of van der Heijden and and put Feyenoord’s shotstopper Par Hansson at the mercy of Jarchino Antonia. The winger from Curacao did not miss in front of the open net, scoring his first of the season and providing the final result, 1-0 for the hosts.
According to Opta’s stats, this was the fourth time out of the last seven meetings that Go Ahead Eagles were able to defeat Feyenoord. The league rookies from Deventer also became the second ever Eredivisie club to enter a match against the league leaders as last in the table and still win. This important victory pushed Eagles up to 14th place, out of the relegation zone, and also handed Feyenoord its first loss of the season, making the title race all the more interesting.
PSV, who sit 3rd with 25 points, welcomed 6th Twente and also weren’t able to get all the points. The visitors took the lead just eight minutes after the restart when their skipper Stefan Thesker’s great through ball found Enes Unal, who is now joint-top goalscorer of the league with 8 goals. PSV found the equalizer in the 62nd minute through a tap-in by Hector Moreno, but weren’t able to score another, despite taking double the shots their opponents did. The reigning champions’ captain Luuk de Jong felt particularly lost in the game. In the first half, he had only 12 touches with the ball, 7 less than any other PSV player.
The most decisive point loss in Eredivisie’s top five definitely came in Heerenveen’s match. De Superfriezen visited Sparta Rotterdam and took the lead less than 10 minutes into the game thanks to a strike by Jerry St. Juste. But from then on, Sparta kept delivering a surprise after a surprise. Despite having the ball just 31 percent of the time, the newly promoted side bagged three goals and won the game with a surprising 2 goal margin. Young Stijn Spierings put them level at the 15 minute mark and Zakaria El Azzouzi gave Sparta the lead just 4 minutes later.
Heerenveen pushed forward and Roy Kortsmit had to make 7 important saves, but in the end it was Rotterdam’s Aussie defender Craig Goodwin who scored, providing the cushion for Sparta. Erwin Mulder will surely have nightmares about said goal, because Goodwin’s easy looking attempt from the free kick fell out of his grasp, through his legs and right into the net.
After an incredible weekend, during which no Top 5 Eredivisie side was able to record a win, the title race got even more tight. When we return from the international break, Ajax will welcome 13th Nijmegen, who haven’t won a league game since October 1st. Feyenoord, who gained just two points from their last three games, will face Zwolle, a mid-table team on the rise who haven’t lost a league fixture since their 1-5 humbling to Ajax. Heerenveen will look to bounce back against 9th Vitesse, while PSV and AZ face opposition from the bottom of the table. The men from Alkmaar will travel to Roda, who now sit last in the table, while the reigning champions will be the guests of second to last Willem II. It seems easy on paper, but we all know how teams in the relegation zone can surprise favorites, especially after this weekend…