By Berend Scholten
With the European places already decided, the spotlight was shifted to the wrong end of the table and FC Den Bosch's brief tenure in the Eredivisie was ended when a 3-0 defeat by FC Utrecht consigned them to relegation.
The side went into the game needing to better the result De Graafschap, the team alongside them at the foot of the table. But Den Bosch were soon behind, conceding an eighth-minute strike from Dave van den Bergh. Paul Verhaegh then added an own goal in added time at the end of the first half before Van den Bergh added his second and Utrecht's third late on.
The result means Den Bosch return to the Eerste Divisie after just one season in the top flight. Only by virtue of goal difference, however, as De Graafschap slipped to a 2-1 defeat by SBV Vitesse, despite taking an early lead through Loïc Loval. Two goals in the last eight minutes from Fred Benson and Matthew Amoah earned Vitesse a derby victory.
De Graafschap's battle to retain their top-flight status is not yet over though and both they and RBC Roosendaal will now enter the eight-team relegation play-offs. Roosendaal will go into their group matches fairly upbeat after a surprise 3-1 win at third-placed AZ Alkmaar, a match that marked Co Adriaanse's last game in charge of this season's UEFA Cup semi-finalists.
Robert Molenaar, Donny de Groot and Jesper Håkansson were all on target before Stein Huysegems' late consolation. Alkmaar therefore finished just two points above Feyenoord, who defeated ADO Den Haag 6-3, with the league's top scorer Dirk Kuijt taking his tally to 29 with a second-half hat-trick.
Elsewhere, Rafael van der Vaart and Daniel de Ridder were both on target as second-placed AFC Ajax came from behind to defeat FC Groningen 2-1, while PSV Eindhoven were held to a goalless draw by Roda JC. The champions' season is not over yet, however, as they face Willem II in the Dutch Cup final on 29 May, Mark van Bommel's last game before departing to FC Barcelona.
Willem II will go into the encounter on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 victory against RKC Waalwijk, while NAC Breda and FC Twente drew 1-1 and SC Heerenveen defeated NEC Nijmegen 2-1.
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