Stunning finish puts PSV in the Champions League, Ajax in Europa League
PSV took the last Champions League spot on the final day of the Eredivisie season on Sunday. The Eindhovenaren beat AZ Alkmaar 1-2 in the AFAS stadium in Alkmaar with two goals from Xavi Simons. Ajax were beaten 3-1 by FC Twente in Enschede and will play in the Europa League next season.
PSV knew they would take second place and the last Champions League spot with a win in Alkmaar. Ajax needed to win and PSV to lose to get second place. AZ would leapfrog Ajax in the Europa League spot if Ajax lost and AZ won.
The Eindhoven side were playing their first match of the season without Ruud van Nistelrooij as manager. The former striker resigned from the PSV manager position earlier in the week, claiming he felt no confidence from his players.
Xavi Simons, who tweeted out his gratitude to van Nistelrooij earlier in the week, made the difference again for the KNVB cup holders. The midfielder broke the deadlock after 65 minutes after a flick-on by Luuk de Jong sent him through. The news was filtering through that Ajax was losing in Enschede, which was met with cheers by both sets of supporters.
AZ got the equalizer in the 84th minute from a penalty after Joey Veerman had fouled Riechedly Bazoer. Jesper Karlsson took the penalty and scored, setting up an exciting finish. Anwar El Ghazi was sent off for PSV in the second minute of injury time before Simons scored again to win the match for PSV. It was Simon’s 19th goal of the season, which makes him the joint top scorer of the Eredivisie season with Anastasios Douvikas of FC Utrecht.
Ajax had initially taken the lead in what will probably be interim manager John Heitinga’s last game in charge through Dusan Tadic. But the match finished in a way befitting of Ajax’s season as Manfred Uganda, Julio Pleguezelo, and Ex Ajax winger Vaclav Cerny scored to give FC Twente a 3-1 win.
PSV will join the Champions League in the third qualifying round next season. Ajax will come into the Europa League in the playoff round.