Sydney van Hooijdonk scored twice as Heerenveen defeated Groningen 3-1 in the derby of the north.

Van Hooijdonk had only scored one penalty since joining Heerenveen on loan from Bologna in January. However, after seven minutes the striker opened the scoring with a close range finish after Amin Sarr had hit the post.

Groningen barely threatened but in the 29th minute, Neraysho Kasanwirjo scored with a wonderful strike that found the net through the underside of the bar.

Eight minutes into the second half, Heerenveen regained their lead with Van Hooijdonk turning away from two defenders before striking the ball past Peter Leeuwenburgh.

The Groningen goalkeeper then prevented Van Hooijdonk from scoring a hattrick before Ibrahim Dresevic prevented the visitors equalising at the other end with an excellent goalline clearance.

Sven van Beek then settled the game for Heerenveen with ten minutes left as the centre-back headed in a corner.

The win opens up the battle for eighth and the final European playoff spot. Groningen currently occupies it but they are now only two points above Heerenveen who sit in 11th.

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