By Patrick Watts in the Netherlands.- In a dramatic weekend of football Ajax Amsterdam recovered from their mid-week heart-breaking last seconds defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League to clinch the Dutch Premier Division title after trouncing Utrecht 4-1, before 53,520 supporters, in the Johann Cruijff stadium in Amsterdam.
Their nearest challengers and arch rivals PSV Eindhoven suffered a shock 1-0 loss at AZ Alkmaar, and although they could equal the points total of Ajax should they win their final game at home to Heracales of Almelo, and Ajax lose in Doetincham, it would be virtually impossible for them to over-turn the vastly superior goal difference (14) which Ajax have.
It appeared as if Ajax were still suffering a ‘hang-over’ from their reversal last Wednesday as Utrecht scored in the very first minute through Othman Boussaid. However it was not long before Donny van Beek, one of the new young stars of the team, equalized for Ajax and further goals by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (surprisingly omitted by coach Eric ten Hag from the Champions League semi-final team) and 2 goals, one of which was a penalty, scored by Dusan Tadic cinched a 34th title for the Amsterdammers. They first won the National/Eredivisie Championship in 1917-18. The victory completed a League/Cup double for Ajax who last week beat Willem 11 by 4-0 in the final.
The Ajax players, totally despondent after their mid-week defeat, rejoiced on the pitch as news filtered through that PSV had been beaten. Large crowds took to the streets of Amsterdam to acclaim their Champions who regained the title that they lost last season to PSV.
Elsewhere Robin van Persie’s final game for Feyenoord as a player ended with defeat and there was disappointment too for their coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who announced his resignation some months ago, as ADO Den Haag scored a surprising 2-0 victory in De Kuip in Rotterdam. Van Persie, although aged 35, still managed to score 16 goals this season. As an Arsenal player in 2011 he scored a record 35 goals to win the Golden Boot.
Vitesse Arnhem moved to 5th place in the table and made sure of a play-off spot for next seasons Europa League after they overwhelmed lowly De Graafschap 6-1 so condemning the team from Doetincham to the relegation play-offs. They will be joined by another Rotterdam team, Excelsior.
The 20 year old Norwegian star Martin Odegaard who has been on-loan to Vitesse from Real Madrid opening the scoring when the ball was deflected into the net by the De Graafscap captain Bart Straalman. Odeggard later scored from the penalty spot. Thomas Buitink scored twice and substitutes Oussama Darfalou and Richie Musaba added late goals to record an impressive victory and send the faithful Vitesse fans home in a happy mood.
Vitesse’s Russian coach Leonid Slutskiy said it was likely that Odegaard, who joined Real Madrid at the tender age of 15, would return to Spain at the end of the season and he could not comment on reports that the Norwegian player would be further loaned out, or even sold, to Ajax. Mr. Slutskiy also rather worryingly said that if any clubs wished to buy a Vitesse player then the club, for financial reasons, would be required to sell.
There has been joy too in Enschede as Twente, Eredivisie champions in 2009/10 under the guidance of Englishman Steve McLaren but shockingly relegated last season, easily won the Ereste divisie title and will play top division football again next season. They regularly attracted crowds of 30,000 this season despite playing in the lower tier.