Football - Soccer-Ajax beat strugglers Tilburg to close in on leaders

By Theo Ruizenaar

Eurosport

ROTTERDAM, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam wasted an early two-goal lead but made the difference in the final 20 minutes to beat bottom side Willem II Tilburg 4-2 away on Sunday and move third.

PSV Eindhoven, a point above champions Ajax in the Dutch first division, are top at the midway point of the season with 37 points from 17 matches despite being held to a 1-1 draw at NEC Nijmegen on Saturday.

They lead the standings on goal difference from Twente Enschede, who beat derby rivals Heracles Almelo 3-2 on Friday.

Siem de Jong put Ajax ahead after 11 minutes when his drive surprised keeper David Meul and three minutes later a sloppy clearance from Meul allowed Danny Hoesen to double the lead.

Aurelien Joachim soon pulled one back for the hosts before the unmarked Genaro Snijders equalised following a fine move.

Niklas Moisander restored the lead for Ajax 18 minutes from time from close range after De Jong flicked on a corner and Jody Lukoki settled matters when he scored off the post.

"If you take an early 2-0 lead you should seal a match quite easily but then you give away two easy goals and that forces you to use a lot of power to clinch the win," Ajax coach Frank de Boer told reporters.

Skipper De Jong added: "It was no surprise for me that we restored the lead from a set piece as we pay a lot of attention to those."

Following their sixth straight win, Ajax are one ahead of Vitesse Arnhem, who were held to a 2-2 home draw by mid-table RKC Waalwijk, and two above Feyenoord after the Rotterdam side struck late to seal a 3-2 win at home to ADO Den Haag.

Wilfried Bony opened up for Arnhem with a smashing header after eight minutes, his 16th goal of the season to top the Dutch scoring charts, but Teddy Chevalier equalised as he intercepted a back pass with 12 minutes remaining.

Three minutes later, substitute Simon Cziommer restored the lead with a well-placed header but three minutes into stoppage time a deflected shot form Sander Duits salvaged a point for Waalwijk.

An own goal from Tjaronn Chery four minutes from time earned Feyenoord their win over Den Haag in a match in which both teams finished with 10 men.

Graziano Pelle and Lex Immers gave Feyenoord a 2-1 halftime lead after Mike van Duinen had equalised in between.

In the second half, Danny Holla converted a penalty for Den Haag while Feyenoord's Bruno Martins Indi was sent off for a profession foul on 57 minutes.

Seconds after the equaliser, Den Haag were reduced to 10 men when central defender Tom Beugelsdijk was shown a red card after elbowing former team mate Immers.

"I am very angry about Beugelsdijk's action as I warned him during the break to avoid the battles he got involved in the whole match and then he does something like this," said Den Haag coach Maurice Steijn. (Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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