And so, on the 34th and final matchday of the Dutch Eredivisie season, it came to be. FC Twente secured their first league title in over 80 years with a 2-0 win away to NAC Breda, with the crucial second, clinching goal scored by Miroslav Stoch. It’s been a season of ups and downs for the Slovakian international, with some impressive highs mixed in alongside spells where he was rather average, but as he now prepares for his Chelsea future, he, and team-mate Slobodan Rajkovic, are Champions.
With a fortnight’s break between the penultimate game and the last, tension was able to build with both Twente and Ajax knowing exactly what was required on the final day. For Steve McClaren’s men, a win would secure the coveted shield. Anything other than maximum points would let Martin Jol’s prolific Amsterdammers in, and they duly held up their end of the bargain, sauntering past NEC 4-0 in Nijmegen. However, it was to prove a wasted effort as a goal in either half for the Enschede side ensured glory. Bryan Ruiz, the star of the campaign, got things off and running midway through the first half after Csaba Feher had been sent off, and after almost an hour of chances, enter Stoch.
Picking up the ball tight to the left flank, he came inside, beating the full back, and from an acute angle bent what was a deliberate shot over the goalkeeper and into the far corner. You can see the goal here. For such a young and inexperienced player to have had the season he has had, and to have the final say and kick off the party, is quite incredible. He was given a standing ovation by the travelling support as he made way before full time, as thoroughly deserved as anybody.
It would be unfair not to mention Slobodan Rajkovic’s part too, for he has also been a title contributor. He hasn’t always been able to command a place in the team, and has missed a portion of the season injured, but his defensive versatility ensured he was able to play his part, and was on the field on the final day to experience the joy of success.
Elsewhere in one of the few loan round-ups remaining this season, Jack Cork continued to impress for relegated Burnley. He picked up another assist, playing a lovely through ball to Steven Thompson for a late consolation, which you can see here. Despite the Clarets waving goodbye to the top flight, Jack has put in a number of impressive outings which will help his cause when returning to Chelsea this summer, with the aim of securing a first-team squad place.
Michael Mancienne played 56 minutes for Wolves, who lost 3-1 away to Portsmouth. With safety assured, there was absolutely nothing for the Midlanders to play for, whilst Portsmouth continue to show fantastic spirit ahead of the FA Cup Final. Scott Sinclair and Franco Di Santo are set for Bank Holiday Monday action at home to Hull and Arsenal respectively (with this report to be updated upon their performances) and may be hoping that with nothing to play for, their managers give them a late season opportunity to impress. Both are returning to Chelsea in the summer but with vastly different hopes – Scott that he still has a place at Stamford Bridge, and Franco to push into Carlo Ancelotti’s first team plans.
Ryan Bertrand will have the same hopes and dreams as Di Santo, after his season finished with a 4-1 mauling of Preston at the Madjeski Stadium, but remains realistic and could yet stay at the club permanently. He was once again impressive and completes the season as one of the most consistently impressive players in a team which showed remarkable mental strength to turn their season around upon the hiring of Brian McDermott.
Matej Delač has had the week out of action with the Croatian League on a brief hiatus, and the teenage stopper taking a back seat to others as Inter Zapresic beat NK Zagorec in a friendly.