AMSTERDAM, Jan 27 (Reuters) - AZ Alkmaar registered a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sparta Rotterdam to climb to second in the Dutch league on Saturday.
Georgian Shota Arveladze opened the scoring midway through the first half when he lifted the ball over his marker before his superb volley hit the net.
Early in the second half an own goal by Steve Olfers and a close range strike from Maarten Martens settled the match.
PSV Eindhoven, in action on Sunday at Roda JC Kerkrade, remain top with 56 points after 21 matches, nine more then Alkmaar. Ajax Amsterdam are third on 45 points and travel to Groningen.
NEC Nijmegen beat NAC Breda 2-1 at home to end their unbeaten run of seven matches.
Brett Holman and Romano Denneboom struck in the first half for NEC, while Sander van Gessel pulled one back on the hour.
At the bottom, Excelsior Rotterdam slipped to 16th, with 16 points, after their eight consecutive defeat at Utrecht, 1-0. Kees van Buuren set up Hans Somers four minutes before the interval for the decisive goal.
Willem II Tilburg drew 0-0 at home against Vitesse Arnhem to move 15th with 17 points.
On Friday, the first division's leading scorer Afonso Alves took his tally to 21 with two goals in Heerenveen's 5-1 rampage at home against Heracles Almelo.