The Hague: Title candidates in the Dutch Eredivisie made no mistake in the 29th match round, with league leaders Ajax beating Heracles Almelo 4-0.
Ajax had a good start when Lasse Schone opened the scoring in the 13th minute Sunday. In the remainder of the first half both teams had chances, but did not score.
Three minutes after halftime, Ajax suffered a setback when goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer was sent off for a challenge on Geoffrey Castillion. Ajax coach Frank de Boer brought in Jasper Cillessen as a replacement and substituted forward Viktor Fischer.
Heracles was not able to profit from this advantage and Ajax added three more goals in the second half. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, substitute Ryan Babel and Christian Eriksen made it 4-0. The latter scored with a beautiful curled strike from the edge of the penalty area.
The red card of Vermeer turned out to be no disadvantage. "Heracles had to make the game after the red card and they did not," said Ajax coach Frank de Boer afterwards at the press conference. "We profited from that."
Ajax`s rivals in the championship race also gained three points. Vitesse defeated NAC Breda 3-0 Saturday, PSV was too strong for Willem II in Tilburg (3-1) and Friday Feyenoord beat VVV-Venlo 1-0.
With five matches remaining Ajax are on 63 points, three ahead of PSV and Vitesse and four ahead of Feyenoord.
Next weekend PSV will host reigning champions Ajax. Vermeer`s red card means he will be suspended for the top of the table clash. Cillessen will be his replacement in Eindhoven.