Alkmaar win to go clear
Ari’s second-half goal gave AZ Alkmaar a 1-0 win at Feyenoord on Saturday and put them clear at the top of the Dutch league. Mounir El Hamdaoui ran past Timothy Derijck and fed Ari for the winning goal in the 56th minute, giving AZ their first win at Feyenoord in four years. AZ are unbeaten in 13 league matches as they bid to become the first club to win the Eredivisie crown outside the trio of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord in nearly 30 years. Also on Saturday, SC Heerenveen beat struggling De Graafschap 2-0 after two goals from Roy Beerens. It was the first time this season that Heerenven did not concede a goal at home. Marcel Meeuwis scored in the 46th minute to cancel out Karim Soltani’s first-half goal and give ADO The Hague a 1-1 draw against Roda JC, while NEC Nijmegen won 2-1 at Willem II.
Larissa hold Olympiakos
Larissa’s Nolberto Solano was sent off for celebrating his equalizer in a 1-1 home draw with Greek champions and league leaders Olympiakos on Saturday. The Peruvian midfielder scored in the 75th minute, but his lengthy celebrations led to a second yellow card of the game, followed by a red. Fernando Belluschi had given Olympiakos the lead in the 52nd minute. The draw, combined with Saturday’s 1-0 home win for second-place PAOK over Xanthi, cut Olympiakos’ lead from six to four points at the top of the 16-team standings. Also on Saturday, Iraklis beat Asteras 2-1 away.
Old Firm held to draws
Stephen McManus equalized for Celtic to draw 1-1 with Hearts on Saturday and maintain their four-point lead over Rangers after the defending champions’ Glasgow rivals were held 2-2 at Dundee United. Celtic’s Georgios Samaras headed Shunsuke Nakamura’s cross back across goal and McManus nodded the ball into the net from close range in the 79th minute. Andrew Driver put Hearts ahead in the 23rd minute, diverting midfielder Laryea Kingston’s low strike past goalkeeper Artur Boruc from 10m and he was denied a second just before the break. Celtic top the standings with 44 points, while Rangers have 40 after needing substitute Kyle Lafferty to score in the second half at Dundee United to salvage a draw.
■ SOUTH AFRICA
Ajax win League Cup
Ajax Cape Town survived a stoppage-time scare to edge Orlando Pirates 2-1 on Saturday and win the South African League Cup a second time. Substitute Bennett Chenene squandered a glorious chance to take a match watched by a capacity 22,000 crowd into extra-time after he fired well wide with only goalkeeper Andre Petim to beat. The result left former African champions Pirates without a major domestic cup success since 1996, while the previous League Cup victory of Ajax eight years ago also came against the Buccaneers. Striker Mabhuti Khenyeza scored twice within 16 minutes of the kick-off. Pirates substitute Siphelele Mthembu reduced the arrears on 74 minutes.
■ UNITED STATES
llertson nets in US win
Tina Ellertson scored her first goal for the US in a 1-0 victory over China in a women’s soccer international friendly on Saturday. Ellertson, who gave birth in May and missed the Olympics in Beijing, scored in the 61st minute. Amy Rodriguez took Shannon Boxx’s pass on the left wing, beat defender Liu Huana and crossed to Ellertson, who converted from 6m inside the right post.