PSV Eindhoven extended their lead in the Eredivisie to 12 points with a win over Almere as their three closest rivals all drew.
Luuk de Jong volleyed in Sergiño Dest’s low cross at the end of an uninspiring first half to take the lead in the Philips Stadium, before dispatching a 61st-minute penalty for his 17th goal of the season.
Feyenoord could only manage a goalless draw against Twente in the battle of second against third. Santiago Gimenez saw his penalty saved by Lars Unnerstall early in the second half, while Twente should have taken a first-half lead when Michel Vlap strayed offside after he and Joshua Benet had broken the defensive line.
AZ also shared the points against Heerenveen, but only after World Cup goalkeeper Andries Noppert gifted them a late equaliser when he smashed a clearance against the shins of his own defender. The ball rebounded off the hapless Pawel Bochniewicz into the empty net.
That result allowed fifth-placed Ajax to close the gap on AZ to a single point by winning 4-2 in Almelo. Brian Brobbey equalised with a shot on the turn after Jizz Hoornkamp had given Heracles an early lead, and added a thumping half-volley for the third, shortly after Steven Berghuis had put Ajax ahead early in the second half.
Go Ahead Eagles against NEC also ended all square to keep the Deventer club just ahead of their opponents in sixth place. Tjaronn Chery, who joined NEC on loan from Maccabi Haifa this week after his five-month-old son was taken ill, looked to have claimed the points with an 83rd-minute goal on the break, but four minutes later Victor Edvardsen equalised from the penalty spot.
Eliano Reijnders’s 15th-minute goal was enough for PEC Zwolle to claim their first win in five matches against bottom side Vitesse, while Fortuna Sittard beat Volendam by the same scoreline to climb to 10th place.
PEC Zwolle 1-0 Vitesse Arnhem
Excelsior 1-1 Utrecht
Heracles Almelo 2-4 Ajax
PSV Eindhoven 2-0 Almere
RKC 1-1 Sparta Rotterdam
Feyenoord 0-0 Twente Enschede
Go Ahead Eagles 2-2 NEC Nijmegen
Heerenveen 2-2 AZ Alkmaar
Volendam 0-1 Fortuna Sittard
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