Goodwin and Dougall start as Sparta's troubles continue

Craig Goodwin, right, in action at Heracles Source: Getty Images

Australian pair Craig Goodwin and Kenneth Dougall were in action as Sparta Rotterdam were plunged deeper into Eredivisie relegation trouble with a 3-2 defeat against Heracles at the Polman Stadion.

Both players started with left-sided Socceroo Goodwin replaced after 83 minutes for Ilias Alhaft while fellow Aussie Dougall played a full game.

Sparta went into the game on the back of two straight losses and things got worse after just six minutes when Dries Wuytens put the home side in front.

Nick Proschwitz equalised for the visitors one minute into the second half only for Reuven Niemeijer to restore Heracles's advantage after 70 minutes.

Proschwitz thought he had salvaged a point with his second goal 14 minutes from time only for Vincent Vermeij to win it for the hosts in added time.

Ajax closed the gap on leaders PSV Eindhoven to just five points with a hard-fought 3-1 win over struggling Excelsior.

Marcel Keizer's side built on last weekend's 3-0 win over their title rivals with a win that took them back above second-placed AZ and within touching distance of the top.

Siem de Jong swept home a 23rd-minute opener from a David Neres cut-back but Excelsior grabbed a shock equaliser through Martin van Duinen just before the break.

Kasper Dolberg restored the Ajax lead from the spot on 57 minutes after a needless handball by Hicham Faik, and Hakim Ziyech made sure four minutes from time as the visitors slid to their fifth defeat in a row.

Source AAP