Ajax end seven-year itch by lifting title

Ajax snatched their 30th Dutch league title – and first for seven years – with a 3-1 home win over FC Twente yesterday. Twente, who beat Ajax last Sunday to win the Dutch Cup, began the day with a one-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie and needed only a draw to win the title for a second straight year, but Siem de Jong's double helped "the most beautiful club in Holland", as their coach Frank de Boer called them, to leapfrog their opponents at the last.

"It is the most important day especially for the supporters because they had to wait a long time for the title," said De Boer who as a player won five league titles with Ajax. De Boer has only been in charge since December when he took over from Martin Jol. He added: "We are the most beautiful club in Holland. We are the biggest club so it is nice to win this title."

Ajax took the lead in the 23rd minute when De Jong met a cross from defender Gregory van der Wiel and unleashed a shot from a difficult angle that gave Twente goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov little chance.

Twente midfielder Denny Landzaat, who used to play for Wigan, doubled Ajax's lead just after half time, beating his own goalkeeper with a bullet header as he tried to clear another Van der Wiel cross. Twente pulled a goal back with Theo Janssen's curling shot from 20 yards, but De Jong scored again in the 78th minute to wrap up the title.

Sampdoria were relegated from Serie A after they lost 2-1 at home to Palermo yesterday and are now out of Italy's top flight for the first time since 2003. The Genoa-based team needed a win to survive until the last day, but the defeat, combined with Lecce's 2-0 victory over Bari, means Sampdoria are four points behind Lecce. Bari and Brescia were already relegated.

Nicola Pozzi found the net in the 30th minute but the strike was incorrectly ruled out for offside, and Palermo captain Fabio Miccoli took advantage of the let-off by giving the visitors the lead in first-half injury time. Jonathan Biabiany gave Sampdoria some hope early in the second half, but Mauricio Pinilla scored the winner four minutes from time.

Augsburg have secured promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time, despite losing 2-1 at Second Division champions Hertha Berlin on the final day of the season in Germany yesterday. Borussia Mönchengladbach will face VfL Bochum in a relegation playoff.



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