AMSTERDAM — Four-time defending champion Ajax saw its chances of a fifth straight title fade into the distance on Sunday as it lost 1-0 at Vitesse Arnhem to fall nine points behind Eredivisie leader PSV Eindhoven after 20 rounds.
A listless Ajax created almost no clear-cut chances in Arnhem and the match looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw until Serbian substitute Uros Djurdjevic controlled a cross with his chest and fired a powerful shot past Jasper Cillessen in the 85th, two minutes after replacing Bertrand Traore.
"We were never in the match," Ajax coach Frank de Boer told national broadcaster NOS. "If we had the ball, we gave it away as quickly as possible."
De Boer said his team now needs to regroup. The defeat in Arnhem followed another poor performance in a goalless draw last weekend with arch rival Feyenoord.
"We don't need to look above us, we have to look at ourselves," De Boer said.
PSV left it late Saturday night to beat Willem II Tilburg 2-1, with Netherlands striker Memphis Depay scoring the winner in the 87th after earlier missing a penalty.
Robert Braber gave Willem II the lead on the half hour against the run of play when he headed in a corner. PSV looked on its way to a shock home defeat to the 11th-placed Tilburg team until Juergen Locadia equalized in the 84th minute. Depay, who had blasted his penalty high over the bar in the 76th minute, made amends with his late winner.
"I stayed focused," Depay said. "We believed we could create chances in five minutes. I scored the winner, but the whole team deserved it."
Third-placed Feyenoord closed the gap on Ajax by beating ADO The Hague 2-1 on Sunday. Former ADO midfielder Lex Immers opened the scoring in the 10th minute and a Timothy Derijck own goal doubled the lead 10 minutes later. Mike van Duinen headed ADO's only goal two minutes after halftime.
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