Frank de Boer feels PSV Eindhoven are "out of the title race" after his AFC Ajax side condemned them to a 1-0 defeat in Amsterdam on Sunday.
De Boer had said in the build-up that victory for Ajax would be a decisive blow at the top of the standings. Though PSV were superior for much of the first half, Phillip Cocu's team spurned a litany of chances and were made to pay when Kolbeinn Sigthórsson headed in Lasse Schöne's splendid ball in the second half.
"This victory is very nice," said the Iceland striker, who started only in the absence of injured captain Siem de Jong. "We knew we could virtually knock PSV out of the title race, and that is what we did with this win. It is good for our confidence and an excellent opening to the second half of the season.
"Of course it's a shame for Siem, but it was extra motivation to prove I could do it. It is a lovely feeling to score in the first match after the winter break and hopefully this gives me a good feeling for our upcoming games. I hope I can be important for the team in the months ahead."
Ajax remain level with Vitesse at the Eredivisie summit – albeit with a better goal difference – three points clear of FC Twente and 14 above eighth-placed PSV. "I think we have knocked out a competitor in the title race," said De Boer. "My compliments to PSV. They were strong as a team and at times were very fast on the break. Maybe a draw would have been fair. It was a world-class goal we scored – Lasse's cross was fantastic, as was Kolbeinn's run and finish."
Cocu – assistant to Bert van Marwijk alongside De Boer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup – also acknowledged that his side now have to lower their sights. "Since the winter I have not spoken about the championship," he said. "We are simply not in a position to speak about it. We need to get as many points as we can and see where we are at the end."
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