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Eredivisie round-up: AZ Alkmaar on the rise after Groningen win

Ron Vlaar
Image: Ron Vlaar scored AZ's winner against Groningen

AZ Alkmaar moved up to third place in the Eredivisie after a 1-0 win over Groningen.

The home side, looking to keep the pressure on Feyenoord in the battle for Europa League qualification, made the breakthrough with 20 minutes left.

Defender Ron Vlaar powered in a header from a corner, which proved enough for victory, lifting AZ three points clear of Feyenoord, who travel to Utrecht on Sunday.

At the other end of the table, relegation-battlers Excelsior lost 1-0 at Heerenveen after a stoppage-time goal from substitute Pelle van Amersfoort.

Graafschap remain in the relegation play-off zone following a 2-1 home defeat by Heracles Almelo, who are still in the hunt for a shot at European qualification.

Charlison Benschop put the hosts ahead in the 16th minute, but Heracles turned the match around during the second half.

Brandley Kuwas equalised just after the hour with a volley before midfielder Lerin Duarte scored what proved to be the winner in the 70th minute with a 25-yard strike.

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Alexander Isak remarkably scored three penalties as Willem II triumphed 3-2 over Sittard, who had two players sent off.

The visitors, still not clear of the fight for survival, took the lead in the 32nd minute through Andrija Novakovich.

In the 41st minute, Renato Tapia was brought down by Andija Balic, who was eventually sent off after the referee had initially shown the wrong player the red card, with the decision corrected by VAR.

Isak converted from the spot to equalise, only for Sittard to regain the lead in the 53rd minute through defender Branislav Ninaj.

Isak, however, scored two further quick-fire penalties in the 58th minute and just after the hour to complete his hat-trick, with a fourth goal later ruled out for offside.

Teenager Thomas Buitink also struck a hat-trick - in 22 first-half minutes - as Vitesse Arnhem drew 3-3 at Den Haag.

Sheraldo Becker gave the home side an early lead before 18-year-old Buitink equalised from close range in the 21st minute.

Six minutes later Buitink produced a fine individual effort to make it 2-1, only for Lex Immers to head Den Haag back on level terms in the 31st minute.

Buitink, though, completed his treble two minutes before half-time when he knocked in a rebound.

In the 76th minute, Immers secured a share of the points with a neat finish inside the Vitesse penalty area.

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