Macca switches focus to Ajax clash
FC Twente coach Steve McClaren turned his attention to Sunday’s Eredivisie trip to Ajax after overseeing a 2-1 victory over Heracles Almelo.
Bryan Ruiz set the Enschede outfit on their way two minutes before the break and Blaise Nkufo made the three points safe with the second goal midway through the second period.
The result kept unbeaten Twente level on points at the summit with PSV Eindhoven, who overcame FC Utrecht 2-1.
"This was an important victory for us," said McClaren.
"The first half was well matched. Heracles managed to make it difficult for us but we showed enough patience and then Bryan Ruiz showed his class by scoring.
"In the second half we made it 2-0 and then managed to keep the ball. In this phase of the competition the main thing is to achieve the three points. We can now focus on the game with Ajax this weekend."
Third-placed Ajax were also winners on Wednesday night, Luis Suarez notching four second-half goals in a 4-0 rout of Roda JC.
Martin Jol’s side head into the weekend still nine points behind the front pair but buoyed by their thumping midweek triumph, which was set up by two Suarez penalties.
PSV could be three points clear at the summit come kick-off at the Amsterdam ArenA, as they host ADO Den Haag on Saturday evening.
Their unbeaten league run continued last night as Orlando Engelaar hit the decisive goal in an entertaining duel with Utrecht at Philips Stadion.
PSV coach Fred Rutten was pleased with the three points but less than thrilled with his side’s overall performance.
"We put on a fine display during the first 25 minutes of the first half and scored an excellent goal," he said.
"But then the game became more scrappy and we had an unacceptable level of performance.
"The players acted rather strangely in the closing stages, picking up unnecessary yellow cards and delivering fancy back-heel passes. That was not a very professional attitude, but I am happy with the win."
Next up for Utrecht is Saturday’s trip to 13th-placed Heerenveen, whose interim coach Jan de Jonge quit on Wednesday night.
The 46-year-old had been in temporary charge since Trond Sollied was sacked in early September, but stood down with his side just two points clear of the relegation zone following Tuesday’s 3-1 reverse at VVV Venlo.
Heerenveen could also be without winger Roy Beerens, who is doubtful after injuring his back against VVV.
Utrecht boss Ton du Chatinier will be without centre-back Sander Keller, who was sent off at PSV.
In other matches on Saturday night, Roda take on Sparta Rotterdam and Heracles host FC Groningen.
The weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night when second-bottom Willem II tackle seventh-spotted NAC Breda in Tilburg.
Champions AZ Alkmaar travel to De Kuip to face fourth-placed Feyenoord on Sunday looking to get their faltering campaign on track.
AZ have picked up only four points from five league matches since Dick Advocaat replaced Ronald Koeman at the helm, and have also been eliminated from the KNVB Beker.
Forward Mounir El Hamdaoui remains upbeat, however.
"If we keep playing, we get European football," the Moroccan, whose side conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at NAC Breda on Tuesday, told www.vi.nl.
"We definitely bossed the game in Breda. It was unfortunate that we could not score more goals. It was a bitter blow to concede an equaliser in the last minute, but I sensed a lot of confidence in the team."
Also on Sunday, basement boys RKC Waalwijk host NEC Nijmegen in a match which will see both teams looking to post only their fifth victories of the season, while VVV take on Vitesse Arnhem.