(Reuters) - Feyenoord won the Dutch league title on Sunday after veteran striker Dirk Kuyt scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 home win over Heracles Almelo that left them one-point clear of arch rivals Ajax Amsterdam. Kuyt, the club’s 36-year-old captain, scored after 40 seconds to set the Rotterdam side on their way to the win they needed for a first title in 18 years.
It was Feyenoord’s 15th Dutch title, following their last success in 1999.
Feyenoord, coached by former Arsenal and Barcelona player Giovanni van Bronckhorst, had a chance to secure the championship last week, but were surprisingly beaten 3-0 by neighbours Excelsior Rotterdam in a nervy performance.
Yet any apprehension their supporters might have had on the final day of the regular league season evaporated right from the start as Kuyt took advantage of a defensive slip to hammer home from a tight angle at close range with his right foot.
It was his 100th goal for the club and was followed within 11 minutes by a towering header as he connected with Eljero Elia’s cross to spark early celebrations in a packed Feyenoord Stadium.
He might have secured his hat-trick just before halftime with a shot that went narrowly wide, but another chance to grab a third came seven minutes from the end when Feyenoord were awarded a penalty.
Kuyt made no mistake as the partying continued in the stands before Peter van Ooijen pulled one back for the visitors two minutes from the end.
Feyenoord’s win moved them up to 82 points, one ahead of Ajax, who concluded their domestic campaign with a 3-1 away victory over Willem II Tilburg.
Ajax will play Manchester United in the Europa League final in Stockholm on May 24.
Last season’s champions PSV Eindhoven finished third after ending the campaign with a 4-1 home win over PEC Zwolle.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis