Richard Ledezma ended his difficult season with PSV on a high note while Luca de la Torre and Heracles still have work to do as they fell into the relegation play-off.
Zwolle 1 – 2 PSV Eindhoven
Richard Ledezma ended the season for PSV Eindhoven in the best way possible, scoring the late winning goal as a substitute in their road win over Zwolle.
The American attacker has endured a frustrating season, beset with a long recovery from a serious knee injury, followed by minor injuries and a generally cautious return to first-team action.
Sunday’s Eredivisie finale will instill the young American international with optimism for next season, as well as show head coach Roger Schmidt that he will have another dependable option available in his squad.
The teams traded goals early with PSV’s Bruma running onto a deflected pass from Cody Gakpo and sliding it past the Zwolle keeper for the 11th-minute lead, then Gervane Kastaneer equalizing five minutes later with a 15-yard blast to the upper right corner.
Both teams thought they had taken the lead later in the half, only to have VAR indicate otherwise. Kastaneer’s 17th-minute header was called back for a clear offside infraction, then Bruma’s strike to the lower right corner later in the half was also overruled after he was observed to be in an offside position in the buildup.
Ledezma entered the game just before the hour mark in place of midfielder Joey Veerman, and was generally strong in his half-hour of action. In addition to the goal, he forced another save from the Zwolle keeper in the 70th minute, had 23 touches, completed ten of 12 passes and drew a pair of fouls from the defense.
His winning goal for PSV came in the 73rd minute, when central defender Jordan Teze launched a long ball over the Zwolle defense into the path of the streaking American. Having split the last pair of defenders with his run, Ledezma let the ball do the work to penetrate to the edge of the six-yard box, where he struck a low, first-timed shot to the far side of the goal to secure the 2-1 win.
PSV finish the season in second place, two behind Ajax. This gives them access to the third qualifying round for the Champions League in August.
Heracles 1 – 3 Sparta Rotterdam
Luca de la Torre and Heracles suffered the worst possible scenario on the last day of the season, as their home loss to Sparta Rotterdam saw the fall to 16th place, forcing them to fight for their Eredivisie survival in the relegation playoff.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, de la Torre was one of his team’s best performers, serving up the assist on their late consolation goal, taking three shots of his own, completing 72 of his 75 passing attempts, although only accurately sending in two of eight crosses.
Even though they held less than one-third of possession, Sparta were ruthless with their chances. They took the lead in first-half injury time when Arno Verschueren broke behind the defense and aimed a shot across the area to just inside the right upright.
They then made it two in the 69th minute with Lennart Thy tapping in Aaron Meijers’s cross from short range, then put the game out of reach ten minutes later in nearly identical fashion, with Michael Pinto serving up Mario Engels for an easy finish.
Heracles did pull one back in the 83rd minute, as de la Torre lofted a cross from the left flank into the six-yard box, which Sinan Bakis put away to make the final scoreline respectable.
However it was too little, too late, as they fell to their third straight loss.
Having fallen to 16th in the standings, de la Torre and his teammates have to successfully navigate the playoff to keep their top-flight status. They will first play a two-legged series against Excelsior Rotterdam on May 18 and 21. Should they come out as winners, they will then face the winner of the other playoff between ADO Den Haag and FC Eindhoven in the final, taking place on May 24 and 29.
Cole Bassett played the final six minutes of regulation for Feyenoord in their 2-1 home loss to Twente. The result is of little consequence, as they had already secured third place and a spot in the Europa League play-off round in August.