AZ Alkmaar and Twente scored four goals each in vital home wins to keep up the pressure on Feyenoord for the second Champions League place.
Vangelis Pavlidis opened the scoring against Almere City with a low shot and rounded off with an exquisite chip to take his goal tally for the season to 18, level with Feyenoord’s Santiago Gímenez.
Almere were briefly level early in the second half after Loïc Mbe Soh headed in from a corner, but Dani de Wit’s backheeled flick and a first goal by David Møller Wolfe secured the points for AZ.
Twente found themselves 2-0 down to Excelsior after 12 minutes, with Troy Parrott scoring from a narrow angle before Sven Nieuwpoort headed the second from a corner.
But after Excelsior’s Arthur Zagre saw red for a heavy challenge after 24 minutes the balance tilted. Manfred Ugalde pulled one back just before half-time before veteran striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel came off the bench to score twice, including a penalty, while another substitute, Younes Tata, fired in a late thunderbolt.
PSV remain 10 points clear of Feyenoord after stretching their 100% start to the season to 15 matches with a 2-0 win at home to Heerenveen, while the champions needed two injury-time goals by Santiago Gímenez and Igor Paixão to overcome Volendam.
Both matches were moved forward to Thursday to make room for the top two teams’ Champions League fixtures this week.
Ajax moved up to fifth place after breaking down a stubborn Sparta with an early goal by Brian Brobbey and a penalty late in the first half from Steven Bergwijn. Camiel Neghli’s left-footed strike reduced the deficit for Sparta, but despite pressing hard the Rotterdammers were unable to find an equaliser.
Vitesse Arnhem won their first home match of the season against Heracles to open up a three-point gap at the bottom of the table ahead of Volendam, with 21-year-old winger Gyan de Regt opening the scoring with his first goal for the club.
Utrecht continued their revival under Ron Jans with a 2-0 win at Go Ahead Eagles that stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches. Bart Ramselaar marked his first start for the club in 18 months by smashing in the second goal from a rebound.
Feyenoord 3-1 Volendam
PSV Eindhoven 2-0 Heerenveen
Twente Enschede 4-2 Excelsior
Ajax 2-1 Sparta Rotterdam
AZ Alkmaar 4-1 Almere City
PEC Zwolle 1-3 NEC Nijmegen
Fortuna Sittard 1-0 RKC Waalwijk
Go Ahead Eagles 0-2 Utrecht
Vitesse Arnhem 2-0 Heracles
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