The top four remain separated by just three points, NAC and Zwolle boost their chances of survival and Heerenveen remain in contention for European football after they beat NEC
By Peter McVitie
ZWOLLE 3-2 RODA
Zwolle gave their chances of survival a massive boost on Friday night when they came from behind to beat Roda.
Roda kept up their remarkable knack of scoring early goals when Sanharib Malki put the ball in the net just six minutes in after Guus Hupperts cut back to him.
Bart van Hintum equalised four minutes later, however, beating Mateusz Prus at his near post from a tight angle on the left flank.
Zwolle began to dominate following the equaliser and went ahead courtesy of a Prus blunder. Bram van Polen cut back to Youness Mokhtar whose shot was straight at the goalkeeper but he deflected it into his own net.
Bart Biemans equalised just minutes later when he headed a free kick towards goal. Diederik Boer did well to keep the initial effort out but Biemans followed it up and knocked the rebound over the line.
The winner came after 73 minutes as Denni Avdic’s effort from distance took a deflection off of Danilo and flew over Prus.
NEC 1-3 HEERENVEEN
Heerenveen took a big step towards European football as they beat the current occupiers of the final Europa League qualifying spot NEC to pull themselves within one point of the Nijmegen club.
Following a goalless first half, NEC took the lead 20 minutes after the restart when they caught Heerenveen out with a counter-attack. Nick van der Velden burst down the wing and squared to Ruud Boymans in the box and the striker tapped in the opener.
Alfred Finnbogason pounced on the rebound of a Joey van den Berg shot and equalised from close range. Just three minutes later, Filip Djuricic put Heerenveen in the lead as he took a Yassine El Ghanassy pass and curled it into the top corner from inside the box.
Djuricic wrapped it up deep into injury time when he burst towards goal from the halfway line and tucked it under Babos.
PSV 2-0 RKC
PSV made sure they remain within one point of the Eredivisie leaders Ajax having defeated RKC 2-0.
The Eindhoven club were given a penalty six minutes into the match when Ard van Peppen caught Atiba Hutchinson when challenging for a high ball and Dries Mertens stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
PSV continued to dominate after the opener and Kevin Strootman came close on two occasions before Ola Toivonen was denied by Jeroen Zoet. Florian Jozefzoon opened up a few chances for RKC but Mart Lieder’s poor finishing scuppered one opportunity and an awful cross from Jozefzoon himself ruined another.
PSV put the game beyond doubt after 69 minutes when Mertens’ fantastic chipped pass putGiorginio Wijnaldum through on goal and the youngster lifted it over Zoet and into the net.
Mertens was lucky to stay on the pitch for the full 90 minutes as he avoided what would surely have been a red card for an elbow on Rodney Sneijder, however the referee and his officials all failed to see the incident.
VVV 0-2 HERACLES
Heracles still have a good chance of getting into the Europa League playoff spots as they beat VVV 2-0.
Geoffrey Castillion looked to have put Heracles in the lead early on when he put the ball in the net but it was chalked off for offside. Minutes later, Robert Cullen came close at the other end, heading a Yanic Wildschut cross towards goal but his effort struck the bottom of the crossbar and bounced off the line.
Everton opened the scoring in remarkable fashion after 61 minutes with a beautiful curling effort which left Niki Maenpaa with no chance and then the game was killed off just six minutes later when Mike te Wierik scored another fantastic goal.
VVV pushed forward throughout the remainder of the game but failed to threaten Remko Pasveer’s goal as Heracles held out for the win to pull themselves within two points of the European places.
ADO 0-4 VITESSE
Vitesse ensured their title challenge remains on track as they beat ADO 4-0 in Den Haag.
The visitors were on top throughout the entire game and opened the scoring eight minutes in through Wilfried Bony. Marco van Ginkel created the opportunity as he collected the ball in the middle of the park and charged towards goal before passing to the Ivorian who tucked it in.
Vitesse’s lead was doubled just half an hour later when a corner was knocked down to Bonywho fired towards goal. The ball was cleared but the referee and linesman ruled that it had crossed the line, making it 26 goals in 24 games for the man nicknamed ‘Daddy Cool’.
Marco van Ginkel made it 3-0 when he latched onto Bony’s perfectly weighted pass and struck past Martijn de Zwart before Mike Havenaar capped things off with Vitesse’s fourth five minutes before the end.
NAC 4-0 WILLEM II
NAC shot up to 11thplace in Eredivisie to further enhance their hopes of staying up with a 4-0 win over bottom side Willem II in the Brabant Derby.
Both sides were evenly matched from the opening minutes but the Breda club soon broke the deadlock through Kees Luijckx when he diverted home the loose ball after a poor clearance from a corner.
It was a very flat game following the opener until the second goal which came after 72 minutes when Mats Seuntjens tucked it past David Meul.
Nebojsa Gudelj’s side then scored two goals in the space of a minute. First Seuntjens set upElson Hooi to put the game beyond doubt, and then the hosts seized possession just after the game restarted and Danny Verbeek collected a poor clearance and smashed it into the net.
FEYENOORD 2-1 UTRECHT
Feyenoord stay just one point behind league leaders Ajax following their 2-1 win over Utrecht.
It was star striker Graziano Pelle who scored the first goal, taking on a Ruben Schaken pass before cutting in past Dave Bulthuis and beating Robbin Ruiter at his near post.
A blunder from Feyenoord captain Stefan de Vrij lead to his side surrendering their lead. The 21-year-old failed to deal with a Ruiter long ball, losing it to Cedric van der Gun who made no mistake in putting it past Erwin Mulder.
The hosts regained the advantage just two minutes later when Daryl Janmaat combined with Schaken before putting it into the net.
Utrecht came close to stealing a point later in the game as Bulthuis, Van der Gun and Edouard Duplan all came close but they had no joy as Feyenoord held out for the win.
AZ 2-3 AJAX
Frank de Boer’s Ajax ensured they stayed top of the league as they beat AZ 3-2 in a thoroughly exciting match.
Ajax looked slightly more dangerous than their opponents in the first 20 minutes and took the lead through Siem de Jong’s fantastic first-time strike after latching onto Toby Alderweireld’s perfectly weighted pass.
Moments later, left-back Daley Blind put Ajax further ahead with his effort from outside the box which beat Esteban.
AZ narrowed the deficit just two minutes after the restart when a corner was headed towardsMarkus Henriksen who nodded past Kenneth Vermeer from close range.
Ajax’s two-goal cushion was restored before the hour mark when De Jong’s free-kick took a deflection off Steven Berghuis and flew past Esteban.
Jozy Altidore gave AZ a fighting chance as he controlled a fantastic long range pass from Adam Maher and put it into the bottom corner to make for a nervy final 15 minutes for both sides.
AZ pressed forward in search of an equaliser in the late stages of the game and had a fantastic opportunity to level it when Maher’s perfect long pass bounced over Alderweireld and fell to Nick Viergever in front of goal, but the defender failed to connect with it and the chance passed him by.
GRONINGEN 0-3 TWENTE
Twente picked up their first win of 2013 and pulled themselves back up to fifth place with a 3-0 win over Groningen.
It was a close encounter throughout the opening 45 minutes before Leroy Fer put the visitors in the lead on the stroke of half-time.
The midfielder was given plenty of room by the Groningen defenders to head Dusan Tadic’s free-kick past Marco Bizot.
The game remained very tight for most of the second-half until Groningen went down to 10 men after Bizot brought down Luc Castaignos, giving away a penalty and receiving a straight red card.
Tadic put the game beyond his old club by converting the spot-kick and then Castaignosmade it 3-0 by smashing it under substitute goalkeeper Luciano da Silva.