Ajax climbed to the second place in the league table by defeating Sparta 5-2, while PSV drew with Utrecht. AZ are the new league leaders. Next week the battle for the Dutch title will be decided.
How close can the Dutch title race get? After 33 of the 34 match days, AZ, Ajax and PSV all have 72 points. PSV began the day as league leaders, but dropped two points at FC Utrecht (1-1). AZ defeated sc Heerenveen at home (3-1) and moved into first place on goal difference. Ajax are now second fater their 5-2 win against Sparta.
That delighted coach Henk ten Cate. ,,I feel that we will win the championship in Tilburg next week'', he looked ahead to the last match of the season, away at Willem II. ,,AZ play away at Excelsior. That's not easy. Excelsior kept us at 2-2 and PSV at 0-0. A 1-1 against AZ would fit nicely in that series.'' Ajax have to hope for a mistake by AZ, as the team from Alkmaar has a superior goal difference. AZ are on + 53. Ajax are on + 47, PSV on + 46.
Ajax convicingly defeated Sparta this Sunday, but the team could have fared even better. The home side had a 3-0 lead after 22 minutes, through two goals by Wesley Sneijder and one by Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Ten Cate then brought on Kenneth Perez for defender George Ogararu to try and increase the margin even more.
But the opposite happened. Bouaouzan made it 3-1 in the 37th minute and two minutes into the second half, Freire brought Sparta back to 3-2.
The ArenA went quiet for a little while, but Ajax bounced back and made it 4-2 in the 75th minute when Kenneth Perez converted a spot kick after Gabri had been brought down. Nicoale Mitea scored the final goal of the match after a good combination between Sneijder and Huntelaar.
,,We could have won bigger'', Ten Cate said. ,,It had nothing to do with the early substitution, we just did not finish the chances well. But we won again and that's what counts most. It is going to be very close next week.''