Ajax close on the leaders
Teenager Viktor Fischer scored a first-half brace to inspire hosts Ajax to a 3-0 win over archrivals Feyenoord in the Dutch league on Sunday. With the top two slipping up this weekend, when leaders Twente were held to a goalless draw by RKC Waalwijk and second-placed PSV Eindhoven lost 3-1 to PEC Zwolle, Ajax were able to capitalize, despite ending their match with 10 men. The victory literally brought the house down as there were dramatic scenes in the dying minutes when substitutes and coaches ran on to the pitch to avoid being covered by a huge amount of snow that suddenly crashed through the stadium’s roof. The victory put Ajax level with PSV on 40 points from 19 games and one point behind Twente. Feyenoord stay fourth on 37 points, two above Vitesse, who suffered a 4-1 defeat at AZ on Saturday. Utrecht are sixth with 33 points following a 2-0 win at Groningen, with Alexander Gerndt and Mike van der Hoorn on target.
SC Braga thump Vitoria
SC Braga beat visiting Vitoria de Setubal 4-1 on Sunday to tighten their grip on third place in the Portuguese league. Braga remain seven points behind SL Benfica and Porto, level at the top of the standings, with their ninth win in 15 games. Marcio Mossoro put the hosts ahead with an opening goal just seconds into the game. Custodio then doubled Braga’s advantage with a header two minutes into first-half stoppage-time. Ruben Amorim made it 3-0 for Braga in the 58th minute. Jorginho Sousa got Vitoria their consolation goal in the 87th, one minute before midfielder Ruben Micael capped the win for Braga. Braga’s Paulo Vinicius was shown a red card in the 90th minute.
Olympiakos extend lead
Olympiakos caretaker coach Antonis Nikopolidis celebrated his first match in charge of the champions with a 2-0 win at home to PAS Giannina in the Super League on Sunday. The 42-year-old former Greece and Olympiakos goalkeeper took over on an interim basis following the sudden departure of Leonardo Jardim on Saturday. Goals from striker Rafik Djebbour and winger Djamel Abdoun either side of halftime enabled the hosts to extend their lead at the top over PAOK to 13 points after the Black and Whites lost 1-0 at PAE Asteras Tripolis the previous day. “Tonight, I had more anxiety to be honest than when I made my debut as a player,” Nikopolidis told reporters. “As a player I have international experience and it was not so difficult to find my feet, but it’s a completely different thing to be a coach — nonetheless, I think I can do it.” In Sunday’s late game, Antonis Petropoulos headed home in stoppage-time to rescue a point for AEK in an ill-tempered 1-1 draw at Aris in which both teams were reduced to nine men.
Galatasaray sign Sneijder
Inter’s Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder signed for Galatasaray on Sunday for a fee believed to be in the region of 7.5 million euros (US$10 million), the Istanbul side announced. Playmaker Sneijder penned a three-and-a-half-year deal which will keep him at Galatasaray until 2016 as the drawn-out transfer saga was finally completed. The Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the player would earn about 5 million euros a season. Sneijder was a key figure in the treble winning season under Jose Mourinho in 2010 when Inter won the scudetto, the Coppa Italia and their first UEFA Champions League trophy since 1965, but he fell out with the club after Inter asked him to accept a reduction in salary and extend his contract to 2016.