Ajax coasts to Dutch title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Ajax Amsterdam clinches its 29th Dutch Championship with a 2-0 victory over NAC Breda.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Ajax Amsterdam clinched its 29th Dutch Championship today with a 2-0 victory over NAC Breda. With a single round remaining Ronald Koeman's side has amassed 77 points and has a six-point cushion on second-placed PSV Eindhoven. Ajax midfielder Anthony Obodai's speculative shot from deep in midfield accidentally found Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 10th minute and Wesley Sneijder took over the ball and slipped it inside the NAC near post. And the title was safe after Tom Soetaers got to the byline in the 43rd minute and picked out an unmarked Ibrahimovic at the far post for a collected sidefoot finish. Ibrahimovic should have beaten NAC 'keeper Gabor Babos in the sixth minute but as NAC started to make a game of it Ajax 'keeper Bogdan Lobont had to leap to tip over a Stefano Seedorf cannonball. Johnny Heitinga, the 20-year-old Dutch defender who broke through to the national team this season, struck the bar with a header. Ajax's relatively low total of 74 goals from 33 rounds was shared democratically around the team with top-scorer Ibrahimovic netting only 12. Sneijder's ninth of the season brought him level with Wesley Sonck, the Belgian striker who played out of position on the right for much of the season. Romanian winger Nicolae Mitea and Rafael van der Vaart contributed seven apiece, in Van der Vaart's case a paltry yield for the man seen by many as the Netherlands' brightest young attacking midfielder. Captain Van der Vaart held the Dutch championship plate aloft amid a red and white ticker-tape parade in the Amsterdam Arena. Ajax's best two players of the season were skillful Brazilian left back Maxwell and Czech midfield dynamo Tomas Galasek, whose experience often held a young side together. ADO The Hague clinched 15th place and Eredivisie survival despite a 3-2 loss at PSV. Park Ji-sung scored PSV's first from a close-range rebound, then Mateja Kezman compensated for a lazily wasted penalty with an inspired lob from the corner of the penalty area. It was the league top-scoring Serb's 28th of the season and 102nd in four productive years in Eindhoven. Resilient ADO bounced back through Romeo Castelen and Roy Stroeve before PSV substitute Johan Vonlanthen blasted the winner through a forest of players. Feyenoord will finish third after rising to 65 points with a 4-1 victory over RBC Roosendaal. SC Heerenveen got the points it needed to a clinch UEFA Cup berth, rising above AZ into fourth place with a 1-0 win over the Alkmaar side on Gerald Sibon's winner. It was a fine reward for one of Dutch soccer's institutions, veteran coach Foppe de Haan who retires this summer after 19 straight seasons on the Heerenveen technical staff, the last 12 of them at the helm. The two sides heading for likely relegation playoffs are FC Zwolle, which drew 0-0 with Willem II Tilburg and Vitesse Arnhem, which went down 2-0 at Roda JC Kerkrade. The only direct relegation spot is occupied by FC Volendam, which drew 1-1 at NEC. (AP)

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