AFC Ajax have won the Eredivisie title for the 30th time – and the first in seven years – after overcoming FC Twente 3-1 in the deciding final match of the season.
Victory was especially sweet for the Amsterdam side after they lost to Twente in the Dutch Cup final last weekend, while their coach Frank de Boer was able to celebrate his 41st birthday by clinching the Dutch championship in his first season at the helm.
As in the cup final, De Boer's side raced into a two-goal lead, after Siem de Jong (23) got on the end of a Gregory van der Wiel cross and Denny Landzaat headed the ball into his own net (46), but Twente harboured hopes of another comeback when Theo Janssen halved the deficit two minutes later. However, De Jong settled the match – and the title race – with his second goal of the afternoon 12 minutes from time.
At the final whistle, the players were handed new shirts adorned with a third star to commemorate their 30th league title, and first since 2003/04. "This match could have gone either way," said De Boer. "But I think we deserved it in the end. It was just a matter of surviving. We had trouble in finishing the match in the right way, but that is understandable for such a young team.
"I couldn't have wished for a more beautiful birthday present," added the former Ajax, FC Barcelona and Netherlands defender, who replaced Martin Jol on 6 December. "But it is even more beautiful for our supporters. They have had to wait so long for a new championship, and now No30 is in the bag. It is just fantastic. Everyone in Amsterdam has been longing for that third star, and now we finally have it.
"A lot of the players are still only still 19 or 20 years old. They have never had to handle this sort of pressure before and the ecstasy afterwards is of course huge. A few weeks ago, no one considered us still in the title race, but we've won it, which makes me proud."
Siem de Jong admitted his concern when Twente pulled a goal back, but this time he got the better of his brother Luuk's side. "We started well, but then they had a few chances and scored. Then you start thinking, ‘Oh no, not again,' but this time we managed to hang on to the lead. The last few matches haven't always gone smoothly, but we are champions now and the way we did it doesn't matter. I think, deep down, [Luuk] is happy for me."
Ajax's title win means they will play in the group stages of next season's UEFA Champions League, while Twente, who finished two points ahead of PSV Eindhoven, must take their chances in the third qualifying round.
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