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Arsenal can lay down a marker

By ESPN Staff

PSV take advantage in Champs Lge play-off tie

AMSTERDAM, May 1 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam beat Heerenveen 2-1 in the first leg of their semi-final playoff for a Champions League third qualifying round ticket on Thursday.

John Heitinga grabbed the winner in the 76th minute to make amends for a defensive blunder that allowed Gerald Sibon to head the equaliser six minutes earlier.

Ajax dominated the match and wasted a number of first-half chances before goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg's long punt set up Luis Suarez to open the scoring after an hour.

The second leg is on Monday in Amsterdam.

Twente Enschede beat visitors NAC Breda 3-0 on Tuesday in the other semi-final ahead of the return on Saturday.

PSV Eindhoven have already secured the Dutch berth in the Champions League group stage by winning the league title.

In the UEFA Cup playoff between teams finishing seventh to 10th, Groningen's Yevgeny Levchenko salvaged a 2-2 draw in stoppage time at Utrecht in their semi-final, first leg.

Gregory Schaken and Robin Nelisse gave Utrecht a 2-0 halftime lead but Goran Lovre pulled one back early in the second half before Levchenko struck.

Both teams finished with 10 men after Francis Dickoh and Lovre were dismissed late in the game.

Roda JC Kerkrade face NEC Nijmegen in their semi-final first leg match later on Thursday.