AZ and Twente stay in hunt for second place as top five all win

Vangelis Pavlidis (at back) watches his chip fly over Almere goalkeeper Nordin Bakker for AZ's fourth goal. Photo: ANP/Ed van de Pol

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.

Ajax fifth

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.

A late goal by Tijjani Noslin gave Fortuna Sittard a 1-0 win over RKC and lifted the Limburg side to ninth place, while NEC won 3-1 at PEC Zwolle to overtake their opponents in 10th.



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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