Feyenoord closed in on their first Eredivisie title with a routine 3-0 win over bottom side Cambuur Leeuwarden, while PSV stayed in the hunt with victory at Volendam.
A header by in-form striker Santago Gímenez after 16 minutes put the Rotterdammers on the way to their ninth successive league win. Early in the second half Sebastian Szymánski scored from a tight angle before Cambuur defender Calvin Mac-Intosch headed an attempted clearance into his own net.
Ajax hung on to second place by beating Emmen 3-1 in Amsterdam, but they will have to do without Edson Álvarez for next weekend’s crucial encounter with third-placed PSV after the midfielder picked up his 10th yellow card of the season.
PSV made heavy weather of their trip to Volendam, but prevailed thanks to two goals and an assist by Guus Til. Volendam had good chances to equalise after Daryl van Mieghem capitalised on some slack defending in the 61st minute to make the score 3-2.
AZ Alkmaar emerged from a mini-slump that saw them go four games without a win, including a European defeat by Anderlecht in midweek, to cruise to victory at Fortuna Sittard with goals by Jens Odgaard, Milos Kerkez and Vangelis Pavlidis.
Sparta had briefly closed the gap on AZ to two points with an impressive 4-0 win at home to Heerenveen. Mica Pinto opened the scoring with a spectacular angled drive after 39 minutes, while Vito van Crooij rounded it off with a twist and shot for his 10th goal of the campaign.
Utrecht strengthened their claim on a European play-off spot with a 1-0 win at home to Twente, who had the ball in the net three times only to be foiled by the offside flag each time.
Vitesse’s win in the Gelderland derby was a game to forget for NEC’s Dutch international goalkeeper Jesper Cillessen. Vitesse were leading 1-0 through Matús Bero when Cillessen lost the ball in the penalty area to Mohamed Sankoh, who squared for Kacper Kozlowski to tap into an empty net.
The home side’s misery was compounded when Bart van Rooij bundled a cross into his own net in the 68th minute before Ryan Flamingo profited from a goalmouth scramble seven minutes from time, after Dirk Proper’s smart finish had briefly given NEC hope.
Excelsior moved away from the bottom three at the expense of Go Ahead Eagles, who were twice punished for sloppy defending. Julian Baas pounced on a loose ball to score the winner after 65th minutes.
Groningen are on the brink of their first relegation to the Eerste Divisie in 25 years after a Michiel Kramer penalty in the 86th minute kept up RKC’s hopes of a top-half finish and condemned the northerners to their sixth successive league defeat.
Excelsior 2-1 Go Ahead Eagles
RKC Waalwijk 2-1 Groningen
Sparta 4-0 Heerenveen
Ajax 3-1 Emmen
Cambuur Leeuwarden 0-3 Feyenoord
Fortuna Sittard 0-3 AZ Alkmaar
NEC Nijmegen 1-4 Vitesse Arnhem
Utrecht 1-0 Twente Enschede
Volendam 2-3 PSV Eindhoven
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