After an extraordinary week in which one result bought the Eredivisie into the focus of the entire footballing world, here's John Dobson with his round-up
NAC 1-2 Roda JC
De Graafschap 1-1 Heracles
NEC 3-2 Groningen
Heerenveen 2-0 VVV Venlo
Excelsior 2-2 Ajax
AZ 3-0 Willem II
PSV 10 (ten)-0 Feyenoord
Twente 3-2 ADO
Vitesse 1-4 Utrecht
Hmm. Where to start? Could it be little Excelsior holding Ajax to a draw? Should it be with Bjorn Vleminckx’s second hat-trick of the season as NEC beat high flying Groningen? What about AZ’s return to form or Utrecht eviscerating Vitesse? No. All of that was somewhat overshadowed by one result which looks like a misprint. PSV really did stick ten past Feyenoord.
It can be a strange league at times in Holland. The big three – Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord – have won all bar three championships since 1965, AZ and Twente being the only gate crashers to a rather exclusive party. Alongside the middle-sized clubs sit the small, smaller, and tiny like Excelsior and Volendam among others. As a result, you often see these quite lopsided scorelines. PSV’s record score was already 10-0, a feat they’ve managed twice before - the last time being 12 years ago against Volendam, a result that in many respects could have been expected. For one of the supposed ‘big 3’ to do this to another is something quite exceptional.
It started as a routine encounter between rivals with lots of huff and puff until Jonathan Reis blasted in a spectacular opener from 25 yards midway through the first half. With ten minutes of the first half remaining, Kelvin Leerdam picked up a second booking and Feyenoord were down to ten men. Before the break Ibrahim Afellay – who announced he’ll be leaving in January during the week – created an opening with some tremendous footwork and finished low across the keeper for 2-0. We don’t know what Mario Been said at half-time but it’s impossible to think he instructed his side to go out and capitulate. Defence suddenly felt like a dirty word and Reis headed in under no pressure for 3-0 just two minutes after the restart. Another two minutes on and Ola Toivonen headed in the fourth before Jeremain Lens was denied a clear penalty. Not that it made much difference as Lens pierced the defence with a lovely run which Reis read to supply the killer ball and it was five. Reis completed his hat-trick on the hour, springing what passed for an offside trap and the goals just kept coming. Three minutes later Toivonen’s dummy let the ball run to Balázs Dzsudzsák and the Hungarian finished from the edge of the box. Orlando Engelaar headed in the eighth with twenty minutes left, Dzsudzsák converted a penalty after substitute Danny Koevermans was tripped for nine, and Lens added his second and PSV’s tenth with a couple of minutes to go.
Needless to say, the fans that travelled down to Eindhoven from Rotterdam weren’t best pleased and there were some ugly scenes outside the ground in the immediate aftermath. Mario Been is reported to have told his players that if he didn’t have their confidence, he’d walk. The response was a stony silence but the official line is that nobody wanted to say anything in the heat of the moment and Been has their backing and the backing of the board. The number of managers that can come back from a shellacking like this is very small, but Feyenoord seem determined to let Been finish the rebuilding job he’s started. Only one Feyenoord player came out of this with reputation not just intact but enhanced - injured skipper Ron Vlaar.
For Ajax, it proved a great day to bury bad news as they became the latest big name to be humbled at the Verzekringen. Vurnon Anita was sent off midway through the first half and the Amsterdammers found themselves facing a 2 goal deficit after goals from Daan van Bovenberg and Kevin Wattamaleo. Mounir El Hamdaoui got one back immediately after the restart but they had to wait until Jan Vertonghen headed in with seconds left to be confident of getting anything from the game. The point came at a price as Maarten Stekelenburg was carried off injured on the hour but his replacement, Jeroen Verhoeven, denied Excelsior a winner deep in stoppage time by blocking Kaj Ramsteijn’s close-range shot. Twente came from behind against improving ADO to go second, Theo Janssen putting the champions in front but goals each side of half time from Frantisek Kubik and Dmitry Bulykin had ADO in the lead. They couldn’t hold on to it as Bryan Ruiz converted a penalty and Marc Janko won it with twenty minutes to go.
Groningen lost for just the second time this season after being Vleminckxed in Nijmegen. The mercurial Swede hit a treble as NEC fended off a fightback by the northerners to seal the win. Roda JC came from behind to beat NAC on Friday night to stay fourth, Jimmy Hempte with the winner with ten to go. Willem II remain bottom with just one point as AZ eased to victory and Utrecht proved they can win even if Ricky van Wolfswinkel doesn’t score as they raced into a 4-0 lead inside an hour against an increasingly hapless Vitesse. De Graafschap and Heracles both moved up after sharing two goals and the points, while Heerenveen are on the fringes of the European places after a comfortable win over ten-man VVV Venlo who had Jorge Chula sent off. Already two down, the red card mattered little to the final outcome.
It’s a Belgian week so we have a full programme midweek. Twente have a nice trip to Tilburg to take on rock bottom Willem II while PSV should also win in Arnhem against Vitesse. Ajax have a tricky one at home to improving Heerenveen, but all eyes will be on De Kuip where VVV Venlo would love nothing more than to kick Feyenoord while they’re down.
Roda JC v NEC
Heracles v NAC
Groningen v ADO
Ajax v Heerenveen
De Graafschap v AZ
Willem II v Twente
Feyenoord v VVV Venlo
Vitesse v PSV
Utrecht v Excelsior
You can follow John on Twitter @Euroballs