Early double puts Ajax two points clear

AMSTERDAM: First half goals from newly-capped international Anwar El Ghazi and Nemanja Gudelj handed Ajax a 2-0 away win at fellow frontrunners Heracles Almelo on Saturday and a two-point advantage at the top of the Dutch league.

El Ghazi, who won his first two caps for the Netherlands in last week's Euro-2016 qualifiers, scored his eighth league goal of the season to put Ajax ahead inside the opening quarter-hour followed by a 22nd- minute effort from Gudelj.

It was a seventh win in nine games for Ajax, bouncing back after a home defeat to champions PSV Eindhoven in their last league match. They have 22 points at the top of the standings.

PSV could have moved second but gave up a stoppage time equaliser to Nigel Hasselbaink as they were held 1-1 at home by Excelsior Rotterdam.

It was a labored performance from the champions, who took over an hour to break the deadlock through Davy Proepper. PSV are now on 18 points in third spot, ahead of Heracles on goal difference. Feyenoord, who play Heerenveen on Sunday, are second on 19 points.

Danny Hoesen scored a late winner as Groningen beat Willem II Tilburg to move into the top eight. AZ Alkmaar are ninth after a 1-1 draw at SC Cambuur while Roda JC Kerkrade and FC Utrehct produced the same scoreline in their Saturday clash.