Rotterdam, Holland (Sports Network) – AZ Alkmaar had a chance to win its first Eredivisie title since the 1980-81 season with a win against relegation- battling Excelsior, but was stunned 3-2 by the home side on the season’s final day, allowing PSV to jump up from the third spot and grab its third consecutive league title with a 5-1 win against Vitesse.
Three teams entered Sunday level on points at the top of the table, as AZ, Ajax and PSV came in on even terms. However, AZ had a superior goal differential and needed just three points against lowly Excelsior to walk away as champions.
Things could not have started off worse for AZ, as keeper Boy Waterman was sent off just 20 minutes into the match for taking down Excelsior’s Andwele Slory inside the area. Luigi Bruins made him pay as he placed his spot kick past replacement keeper Khalid Sinouh for a 1-0 lead.
Down a goal and down a man AZ responded like champions just four minutes later to equalize. Simon Cziommer curled a beautiful free kick into the left corner of the net, giving Excelsior keeper Ronald Graafland no chance.
Henrico Drost then put AZ’s title hopes in serious jeopardy as his long-range effort found its way into the back of net after kissing the post, putting the home side back on top 15 minutes after the restart.
AZ’s top sniper, Danny Koevermans, then gave his team life as he took advantage of a defensive miscue inside the area by the Excelsior defense to tally his 22nd goal of the season and put AZ in position to snatch the win.
Rene van Dieren then made things easier for AZ as he received his second yellow card with 15 minutes to play, putting the team’s back on level terms.
Koevermans nearly took immediate advantage of the opportunity as he rang a shot off the post, but AZ’s fate would end in a cruel way on this day as Daniel Guijo-Velasco would knock home the game-winner from close range in stoppage time to crush the Alkmaar club’s title dreams.
Meanwhile, it came down to Ajax and PSV with AZ out of the way. Ajax had a one-goal advantage in goal differential entering the day, but they were only able to record a 2-0 win over bottom-half club Willem II. Urby Emanuelson and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar found the net for the Amsterdam club, who were in position to claim the title if PSV won by two goals or less.
However, the Eredivisie crown will reside in Eindhoven for the third consecutive year as PSV put together a strong performance to snatch the unlikely title. After limping towards the finish line in the season’s final month, PSV found one last surge and put together a resounding 5-1 win against Vitesse. With a 2-1 lead at halftime at Philipsstadion, PSV rallied for three second-half goals, and when all the results were in, a raucous celebration was kicked off to celebrate yet another league title.
In other results on Holland’s final day, Heerenveen got four goals from the league’s leading scorer, Afonso Alves, to claim a 5-1 win over Feyenoord and give the team the last Champions League qualifying spot. Utrecht blanked Groningen 2-0, NEC leaped over NAC for the final UEFA Cup qualifying spot with a 3-2 win over relegation side Den Haag, while NAC dropped a 2-1 decision to Twente. Roda slammed Heracles 7-0 and Sparta clipped RKC Waalwijk 1-0.