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Leader AZ Alkmaar, Ajax win in Dutch league

Leader AZ Alkmaar, Ajax win in Dutch league

Graziano Pelle scored five minutes after coming on as a second half substitute to help AZ Alkmaar beat NEC Nijmegen 1-0 and maintain its three-point lead in the Dutch league.
Pelle, who replaced Ari in the 70th minute, pounced on the rebound after NEC goalkeeper Gabor Babos had parried a shot by fellow substitute Moussa Dembele.
The strike secured AZ's sixth straight win and extended its unbeaten run to 15 games, while ending NEC's 14 match run without defeat.
AZ, led by former Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal, leads the standings with 41 points, three more than Ajax and enough to capture the traditional winter championship. FC Twente is third with 34, followed by defending champion PSV Eindhoven with 30 ahead of a 19-day break.
AZ had led at the winter break in 1980, the year it last won the Dutch title. Two seasons back, it lost the title to PSV Eindhoven after leading at the same stage.
Also Sunday, Ton du Chatinier's reign as head coach at FC Utrecht began with a 3-1 win against Roda JC. Cedric van der Gun, Simon Cziommer and Loic Loval scored the goals for Utrecht, which fired coach Willem van Hanegem on Dec. 23 after he criticised the club leadership in a newspaper column.
Marcel Meeuwis netted a penalty in the 58th for Roda.
Earlier Sunday, Dario Cvitanich scored a hat-trick to give Ajax a 3-0 victory over ADO The Hague.
Luis Suarez provided assists for all three goals, first setting up Cvitanich with a long-range pass in the seventh minute. Cvitanich then doubled the lead in the 18th, converting another Suarez pass from close range, and added his third in the 57th by powerfully heading Suarez's cross past ADO goalkeeper Robert Zwinkels.
Real Madrid-bound Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made an emotional return to the Amsterdam Arena to bid farewell to former teammates and fans. He watched from the stands as replacement Cvitanich displayed some scoring class good enough to emulate his 76 goals in 92 league matches for Ajax.
On Friday, Feyenoord ended its three-game losing streak by beating NAC Breda 3-1.
Also, this weekend, it was: Vitesse Arnhem 3, FC Volendam 1; Willem II 3, Sparta Rotterdam 2 and Heracles Almelo 0, De Graafschap 0 and FC Groningen 2, SC Heerenveen 3.


Updated : 2021-03-06 17:07 GMT+08:00