The last weekend before the international break was full of points lost rather than gained for the top teams in the Eredivisie. This time, only two teams managed to get full 3 points and the race for the title seems all the more clear now. Let’s look at the weekend’s results as we keep up with the competition.
We begin at De Grolsch Veste, where FC Twente hosted FC Utrecht in a battle of the teams currently holding on to the last Europa League qualifying spots. The hosts took the lead after 22 minutes, as Hidde ter Avest found himself alone behind the defence and beat a well out of position Ruiter with a brilliant chip. They only remained ahead for 4 minutes though. Twente’s defence stopped a good bit of passing play, but got the ball only to Yassine Ayoub at the edge of the penalty area. Ayoub’s shot was parried by Marsman, but our very own Richairo Živković stood at the right place at the right time and headed the ball home to set the score at 1-1. Twente pressed their opponents with 65 percent possession and double the shots Utrecht had, but weren’t able to break the deadlock. After this draw, Utrecht still sits 7th, 3 points behind Twente.
Breathing on the back of Utrecht is not only Sparta, even after a loss to Excelsior, but also Vitesse. The boys from Arnhem travelled to Heerenveen, and hoped to capitalize on the hosts’ poor run of form lately. Despite sitting 4th, De Superfriezen haven’t won a league game in almost a month, drawing with Feyenoord and losing to Sparta. The trend continued this weekend, as a tight match that saw only 5 shots on goal finished 1-1. Vitesse took the lead with just 20 minutes to go through Baker and looked to be set for their first league win in quite some time, but impact sub Henk Veerman made the most out of his only 13 minutes on the pitch and scored the equaliser in the 84th minute. Thanks to another point loss, Heerenveen could have been overtaken by AZ the following day, and were hoping that the very last team in the division, Roda, would put up a fight against the team from Alkmaar.
And their calls were heard. Roda didn’t enjoy much of the ball against AZ, but managed to use their only 34 percent possession to almost full effect, producing the very same number of shots. Only one attempt found the back of Sergio Rochet’s net, as Nigerian midfielder Abdul Ajagun recorded his first goal of the season few minutes before half time. Alkmaar made changes early after the restart, and it worked well as towering striker Wout Weghorst equalised with his seventh goal this season. The game ended 1-1 and Alkmaar remained 5th, but at least Weghorst’s return to form can be a positive for them. The striker had a red hot start, but then went on an 8 game goal drought throughout competitions. But he seems to have put on his scoring boots on again, as he scored 3 in the last 2 matches and tied Davy Klaassen just under the top of the scoring table. Him and Ajax’s captain alike are missing just one goal to tie the trio of Dolberg, Jorgensen and Unal.
If you’re tired by the 1-1 draws, don’t worry, because we have… a 0-0 draw for you. That’s right, the reigning champions PSV failed to win for the second time in a row and this time didn’t even record a goal. Despite keeping the ball for 66 percent of the time and producing 7 shots on goal compared to the opposition’s 2, the Rood-witten had to cope with a draw against Willem II. It must have been a truly frustrating game for the favorites, because not only did they draw against a team from the relegation zone, but also enlarged the margin between them and Ajax, who now sit four points ahead of the reigning champions.
Out of the first 8 clubs in the table, only Ajax and Feyenoord managed to record a win. Our prime rivals responded to De Godenzonen’s 5-0 battering of Nijmegen on Sunday with a win to nil of their own. The Rotterdammers allowed PEC Zwolle only one shot on goal, while they produced seven and turned three of them into goals. They took a lead after 38 minutes through a headed effort of their captain Dirk Kuyt. Half an hour after that, a great passing play by the home team lead to a well struck long distance shot by Karim El Ahmadi that bumped the score to 2-0. Just five minutes later, Kuyt found Jens Toornstra, who volleyed an absolute cannonball behind Mickey van der Hart ad set the final score, 3-0.
With Feyenoord only two points ahead of Ajax, who are further four ahead of PSV, the race for the Eredivisie title is becoming more and more tight, yet more and more clear. The upcoming weekend can shuffle the deck, though, as PSV host 11th Den Haag, while Ajax and Feyenoord battle Europa League spot contenders Heerenveen and Utrecht respectively.