Ajax opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie as their three closest rivals all failed to win at the weekend.
The champions were below par against RKC Waalwijk but prevailed thanks to a brace each from Steven Berghuis and Brian Brobbey.
Pelle Clement levelled the scores five minutes before half-time, but Berghuis restored the lead soon after the break with a searing half-volley.
PSV suffered an upset in Groningen thanks mainly to a chaotic seven-minute spell at the end of the first half. The home side had posed little threat until Walter Benitez spilled a shot into the path of Ricardo Pepi after 38 minutes.
Radinio Balker headed in a corner for Groningen’s second and they went 3-0 up when Cyril Ngonge beat Benitez at near post.
There was still time for PSV to pull a goal back before the break through Ibrahim Sangaré, but despite laying siege to Groningen’s goal in the second half, the only reward for Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side was a goal by Guus Til. Joey Pelupessy secured the points for the home side in injury time.
Feyenoord drew level on points with PSV in third place, but coach Arie Slot was disappointed with his team’s draw at home to Fortuna Sittard. Iñigo Córdoba gave the visitors the lead when he tucked away a loose ball after nine minutes, while Feyenoord’s equaliser came in the first minute of the second half from Javairô Dilrosun.
AZ lost their second league match in a row as they went down 2-1 at Excelsior. Marouan Azarkan set up the opener after six minutes when Siebe Horemans headed in his free-kick, then broke the offside trap to score the second himself.
AZ pulled one back early in the second half through Yukinari Sugawara but were unable to find an equaliser.
Sparta’s strong recent run came to an end in Utrecht under the guidance of their former coach, Henk Fraser. US international Taylor Booth supplied the first two goals, headed in by Daishawn Redan and Anastasios Douvikas, before Sean Klaiber added a third from long range.
Late Twente penalty
Twente looked to have been frustrated in their efforts to bag a win at Cambuur until the third minute of injury time, when referee Jochem Kamphuis awarded the visitors a controversial penalty for handball which was dispatched by Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
Volendam remain at the bottom of the table after a home defeat by Heereenveen, who moved up to seventh thanks to late goals from Mats Köhlert and Armin Sarr.
Vitesse moved away from the relegation places with a 2-1 win over Emmen, while NEC shared the points for the eighth time in 11 league matches as they scored twice in the last 12 minutes to draw 3-3 at home to Go Ahead Eagles.
Feyenoord 1-1 Fortuna Sittard
RKC Waalwijk 1-4 Ajax
Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 Emmen
Cambuur Leeuwarden 1-1 Twente Enschede
Excelsior 2-1 AZ Alkmaar
Groningen 4-2 PSV Eindhoven
NEC Nijmegen 3-3 Go Ahead Eagles
Utrecht 3-1 Sparta Rotterdam
Volendam 1-3 Heerenveen
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