Ajax beat league leaders PSV 3-1 to reignite the Eredivisie title race in a match that turned on two crucial VAR decisions.
Erik ten Hag’s side looked to have suffered a double blow when Noussair Mazraoui was sent off in the 58th minute for a challenge on Angeliño. Referee Björn Kuipers initially showed the defender a yellow card, only to upgrade it to red on the advice of the video panel.
A minute later Luuk de Jong headed in an equaliser over the head of Andre Onana after the goalkeeper misjudged a cross. PSV pressed forward in search of a winner, but on 72 minutes Daniel Schwaab hauled down Ajax’s David Neres in the area and Kuipers awarded a penalty, again after consulting the VAR.
Dusan Tadic converted the spot-kick and the 10 men of Ajax held out, with Neres applying the finishing touch in the 96th minute.
Earlier on Schwaab had gifted Ajax a 21st-minute lead when he tapped the ball past his own goalkeeper, Jeroen Zoet, under pressure from Tadic.
The result means Ajax are just two points behind Mark van Bommel’s side with seven games left of the Eredivisie season. The Amsterdammers also have a superior goal difference.
Ten Hag said his team’s determination had been the decisive factor in a gritty game with few clear chances. ‘When you beat PSV by two goals with 10 men, it’s a very well deserved victory,’ he said.
Van Bommel called the defeat ‘unnecessary’ but refused to blame individual players, despite the opening goal coming from a mix-up between Zoet and Schwaab.
‘The second half started well, Lozano missed a chance, Mazraoui saw red, we brought it back to 1-1, dominated and had chances. I can make a good story of it, but in the end we lost,’ he said.
Earlier on Sunday Feyenoord missed the chance to draw level with third-placed AZ Alkmaar as they went down to an injury-time winner in Utrecht. Timo Letschert scored the decisive goal after Feyenoord had come back from 2-0 down in the second half through Sam Larsson and Robin van Persie.
At the other end of the table PEC Zwolle claimed a vital win over fellow strugglers Emmen, beating the team from Drenthe 3-0 to move seven points clear of the play-off zone. Emmen stay in 17th, level with De Graafschap, who went down 2-1 at home to Heracles on Saturday.
Bottom placed NAC Breda earned a home draw against VVV Venlo, despite losing Mounir El Allouchi 10 minutes from the end for a second yellow card, but they remain seven points adrift of Emmen.
Alkmaar beat in-form Groningen 1-0 to boost their chances of a top three finish, with the only goal coming from Ron Vlaar on 70 minutes.
Fellow northerners Heerenveen moved into the top half at Groningen’s expense by beating Excelsior by the same scoreline, substitute Pelle van Amersfoort bagging the winner in the last minute.
Thomas Buitink’s hat-trick for Vitesse Arnhem put him in an elite group of players who have bagged three goals in an Eredivisie match before their 19th birthday – the others are Johann Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Wim Kieft, Frank Rijkaard, Rafael van der Vaart and Ronaldo. However, it was only enough to claim a point against ADO Den Haag, who equalised through Lex Immers in the second half.
Willem II’s Alexander Isak became the first player in the league’s history to score three penalties in the same match to give his team a 3-2 win over Fortuna Sittard.
ADO Den Haag 3-3 Vitesse Arnhem
AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Groningen
De Graafschap 1-2 Heracles Almelo
Heerenveen 1-0 Excelsior
Willem II Tilburg 3-2 Fortuna Sittard
Ajax 3-1 PSV Eindhoven
NAC Breda 1-1 VVV Venlo
PEC Zwolle 3-0 Emmen
Utrecht 3-2 Feyenoord
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