And so it was, 10-man AZ fell, 3-2, away to Excelsior, Ajax won 2-0 at Willem II, and then, out of absolutely nowhere, PSV thumped Vitesse Arnheim, 5-1, leapfrogging the Amsterdam club on goal-differential to win the Eredivisie title. Notwithstanding the spectacular photo finish, many believe PSV was the least deserving of the three for wasting an 11-point lead at Christmas.
AZ,coached by the legendary Dutch tactician Louis Van Gaal, hadn't lost at Excelsior in 22 years; in light of that record, the Eredivisie trophy had even been delivered to the match. "It's a pity to let it slip when we were so near. I have never experienced this before," a teary-eyed Van Gaal said after the match. "I feel bad for the players. They didn't have the experience to clinch it," the former Barcelona coach added, suggesting he was blameless in the team's failure.