Eredivisie: Matchday 33 Review
Last weekend brought the penultimate round of matches in the Dutch top flight. The main focus of the country was on the battle for first place, with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven still fighting it out to be crowned champions. Everything else had already been pretty much sorted prior to last weekend’s matches though – the European places had already been decided, while we also knew which three teams would finish at the bottom of the table.
The fact that there wasn’t much to play for didn’t stop the teams from putting on an entertaining display though, with five of the nine fixtures featuring five goals or more. Check out the full round-up of last weekend’s Eredivisie results below…
Ajax All But Seal the Title
The biggest news from the weekend is the fact that Ajax has almost certainly sealed the Eredivisie title for the first time since 2014. Their win against Utrecht, combined with PSV’s shock loss to AZ Alkmaar, put the Amsterdam club three points ahead, with one game left to play. The fact that Ajax has a far superior goal difference means it’s now all but impossible for them to be caught by second-placed PSV.
Ajax’s win over Utrecht was a comprehensive one. Thy didn’t get off to the best start though, with Utrecht scoring through Othman Boussaid in the first minute. Veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar leveled the match in the 14th minute though, before Donny van de Beek put Ajax ahead just before half-time. Dušan Tadić then hit two goals in the second half, taking him to a total of 26 in the current Eredivisie campaign. The defeat meant nothing to Utrecht, who were already guaranteed Europa League football, however it meant everything to the Ajax fans and players.
It wasn’t just Ajax’s win that made them almost certain to be champions – it also happened due to PSV Eindhoven’s shock loss away to AZ Alkmaar. In a low scoring game, Guus Til was the only player to get the ball over the goal line, scoring in the 49th minute. In truth, it was an even match, with PSV probably deserving a draw – a draw that would have kept them in with a slim hope of winning the title this year.
So, Ajax is three points ahead of PSV with one game left. The Amsterdam club has a goal difference of +84 though, while PSV’s goal difference is +70. This means that something miraculous would have to happen in order for Ajax not to be confirmed champions in the next round of Eredivisie games.
Van Persie Bows Out with a Loss
Robin van Persie – one of the modern-day greats of Dutch football – played his last competitive match last weekend. There is one more round of Eredivisie matches to come, however, the striker won’t take part in Feyenoord’s last game of the season. Van Persie began his professional career as a 17-year-old at Feyenoord, and he now brings the curtain down on his career with the same team.
Vitesse Book a Place in Europe
It was certainly a good week for Vitesse, as they managed to book their place in the Europa League qualifying round next season. The teams finishing 4th to 7th will qualify for the competition, and Vitesse now can’t be caught by Groningen, who occupies the 8th place. To say that Vitesse’s victory over De Graafschap – who already knew they’d finish in the relegation playoff places – was comprehensive would be an understatement, as they demolished them 6-1.
De Graafschap defender Bart Straalman opened the scoring, but unfortunately, he found the wrong net, giving Vitesse a 26th-minute lead. Buitink (2), Ødegaard, Darfalou and Musaba scored the other goals for Vitesse, while Youssef El Jebli got a consolation for the visitors in the 86th minute. Vitesse will now aim to secure 5th place in the next round of fixtures, however, both Utrecht and Heracles could leapfrog them if they lose their final game of the season, which is against VVV.
Too Little, Too Late for Excelsior
Prior to this round of matches, Excelsior already knew that they’d be competing in the relegation playoffs, so their victory over Heracles – who are competing for a Europa League place – was a case of too little, too late. The match was probably the most entertaining of the weekend though, with Excelsior eventually running out 5-4 winners.
Heading into the final minutes of the match, Excelsior was trailing 4-3, with Heracles’ Adrián Dalmau scoring a hat-trick for the home team. Excelsior leveled the game in the 89th minute though, before Elías Már Ómarsson completed his hat-trick – as well as an amazing turnaround by his club – in the 91st minute.
Wins for Groningen, VVV, FC Emmen and Heerenveen
Elsewhere, Groningen produced a solid display to defeat Fortuna Sittard 3-0. Groningen’s goals came courtesy of Gladon, Doan and Memišević, and the win kept them in the hunt for a Europa League place. They’ll need Heracles to lose their final match of the season, as well as win their own, plus they’ll need to produce a 4-goal swing. It’s unlikely, however, it could still happen.
VVV also produced a win for their fans, as they defeated Zwolle 4-2. The match really didn’t mean much though, as both teams are guaranteed to finish in mid-table positions when the season comes to an end. The star player for VVV was Peniel Mlapa, who scored a hat-trick, with the other VVV goal being scored by Peter van Ooijen. Zwolle’s two goals came courtesy of Lennart Thy and Stanley Elbers. The result means that VVV jump into 12th place, jumping above Zwolle in the process.
FC Emmen – another team with little to play for – also got a win over the weekend, defeating Willem II 3-2. The result was an impressive one, as Emmen were trailing 2-0 at one point in the game,however goals from Luciano Slagveer, Hilal Ben Moussa and Michael de Leeuw turned the game around.
Finally, Heerenveen jumped into 11th place with a 2-1 victory over bottom-placed NAC, who already know that they’ll be playing in the second tier of Dutch football next season. Heerenveen only just managed to get three points though, as they grabbed the win thanks to a 90th-minute goal from Mitchell van Bergen.