Twente close on Champions League spot as Ajax settle for fifth

Sem Steijn celebrates scoring his third and Twente's seventh against Volendam. Photo: ANP/VIncent Jannink

Twente Enschede put themselves in pole position for the Champions League play-offs after racking up seven goals against relegated Volendam on the penultimate day of the Eredivisie season.

Twente survived an early scare when Damon Mirani put the visitors 2-1 up after just 21 minutes, but Naci Ünüvar smashed in an equaliser two minutes later and Twente were 5-2 up by half-time. The scorer of the fifth goal, Sem Steijn, went on to complete a hat-trick after the break.

AZ Alkmaar can still overtake Twente on the final day of the season after they won 3-0 at Go Ahead Eagles.

AZ will need to beat Utrecht next Sunday and hope Twente drop points at PEC Zwolle, but will have the consolation of a place in the Europa League group stages if they finish fourth.

Ajax seal fifth

Ajax will enter the Europa League at the second qualifying round stage after they beat Almere 3-0 with a first-half hat-trick from Steven Bergwijn to secure fifth spot, after nearest rivals NEC lost 3-2 at Feyenoord.

Both teams scored in a turbulent five-minute spell either side of half-time in Nijmegen, before Yankubah Minteh put Feyenoord ahead for the second time with his 10th goal of the season.

NEC, who had had Bram Nuytinck sent off for a scything tackle, looked to have salvaged a point when Sontje Hanssen shimmied and slid the ball under Justin Bijlow, only for Ayase Ueda to tap in a late winner.

Champions PSV Eindhoven can no longer match Ajax’s record points total for a season, but they avoided a second defeat of the season at Fortuna Sittard thanks to Jerdy Schouten’s second-half header. “The lads did their best, but the first half especially was bad,” said coach Peter Bosz.

Go Ahead Eagles secured the final play-off place for the UEFA Conference League despite their defeat by AZ, after Heerenveen lost 3-1 at home to bottom side Vitesse, for whom Marco van Ginkel bagged a double.

Relegation battle

A goal by Camiel Neghi was enough for Sparta to win at Utrecht in a match between two teams that had already sealed places in the Conference League play-offs, along with NEC.

Excelsior kept their hopes of staying in the Eredivisie alive with a 4-0 win over Heracles, while RKC stay ahead of them on goal difference after Richonell Margaret’s late equaliser earned a point against PEC Zwolle.

Heracles’s much worse goal difference means they still need a point against Fortuna Sittard next week to avoid being dragged into 16th place, which would take them into the end-of-season play-offs against six Keuken Kampioen Divisie teams.

However, that scenario also requires RKC and Excelsior to win their final matches, which are away to PSV and Feyenoord respectively.



Ajax 3-0 Almere City

Excelsior 4-0 Heracles Almelo

Fortuna Sittard 1-1 PSV Eindhoven

Go Ahead Eagles 0-3 AZ Alkmaar

Heerenveen 1-3 Vitesse Arnhem

NEC Nijmegen 2-3 Feyenoord

RKC Waalwijk 1-1 PEC Zwolle

Twente Enschede 7-2 Volendam

Utrecht 0-1 Sparta Rotterdam


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