PSV Eindhoven have kept their slim Eredivisie title hopes alive with a 3-1 victory away to AZ Alkmaar to move into second position.
Captain Mark van Bommel got PSV started with a rasping free-kick in the first half before Dries Mertens and Jeremain Lens finished AZ off after the break, although the hosts notched a late goal through Aron Johannsson.
Having lost 3-2 to Eredivisie leaders Ajax Amsterdam last week, PSV desperately needed a win at AFAS Stadion in Alkmaar on Saturday to stay in the hunt for the title.
And with Ajax having been held to a 1-1 draw by Heerenveen on Friday, PSV knew victory would take them within four points of the league leaders with three rounds remaining.
The Eindhoven-based club started well and took the lead in the 36th minute when van Bommel drove a free-kick into the top corner of the net.
PSV doubled their lead in the 57th minute, breaking AZ’s defence open with a flowing move through the penalty area, which ended with Kevin Strootman teeing up Mertens, who burst into the box from the left wing to slot the ball into the bottom corner.
The visitors made it 3-0 just four minutes later when Lens took the ball into the right side of the box before cutting onto his left foot and beating AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado at his near post.
AZ finally got on the scoresheet with four minutes remaining plus stoppage time with Icelandic forward Johann Gudmundsson setting up his compatriot Johannsson to score his second goal in two games.
But that did not stop PSV (63 points) from moving above Vitesse Arnhem (61) into second position, four points behind Ajax (67), while AZ (33) remain in 13th position.
Bottom club Willem II took a step towards the relegation play-off with a crucial 2-1 home win over Roda JC, just their second victory in 18 matches.
Philipp Haastrup and Aurelien Joachim scored within 10 minutes of each other early in the second half to set up Willem II’s win, although Sanharib Malki’s 88th-minute goal for Roda ensured a nervous finish for the home team.
Willem II improved to 20 points, just two behind VVV Venlo, who occupy one of the Eredivisie’s relegation play-off positions with Roda (27 points) taking up the other.
Roda could still reach safety, however, by overtaking RKC Waalwijk before the end of the season after the latter were thumped 4-0 by Heracles, while in the other match on Saturday, Groningen defeated ADO Den Haag 2-1.
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