"This is so beautiful," said an elated Phillip Cocu after his PSV Eindhoven side leapfrogged Ajax on the final day of the Eredivisie season to clinch their 23rd Dutch title.
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PSV Eindhoven have retained the Dutch title on a dramatic final day in the Eredivisie season, leapfrogging Ajax to secure a UEFA Champions League group stage berth next term.
Phillip Cocu's men went into their last remaining fixture at Zwolle with their destiny out of their hands. Level on points with Ajax but trailing on goal difference, they needed to win their game and hope for a slip from the leaders at second-bottom De Graafschap – and so it played out, PSV triumphing 3-1 while Ajax could only draw 1-1.
Jürgen Locadia and Luuk de Jong fired PSV 2-0 ahead at half-time, and although Ouasim Bouy brought Zwolle back into the match on 66 minutes, De Jong gave the Eindhoven outfit breathing space again from a Locadia assist almost immediately after.
As for Ajax, they missed out on their fifth crown under Frank de Boer despite Amin Younes's early effort at De Graafschap. Bryan Smeets responded in the 55th minute, and Ajax were unable to produce a winner despite a late onslaught.
"Such an ending is fantastic," commented Cocu, after leading PSV to a second title since he took charge in 2013 – and their 23rd overall. "What can I say at a moment like this? What a great performance. I'm really proud of my team. Given that no one thought we could it do it, it's even more beautiful to still manage to win the championship."
The former Netherlands midfielder inspired his side by reminding them of the 2006/07 season, when he and his PSV team-mates grabbed the title on goal difference after a final day in which AZ Alkmaar were also in contention.
"This morning at breakfast, I showed them images from the 2007 title," he said. "I told the players they always have to keep believing in the title – and now we've managed to win it. This is so beautiful; I'm really going to fully enjoy this now."