Ajax gains confidence thanks to big win in Heerenveen

Ajax gains confidence thanks to big win in Heerenveen

Ajax was under a lot of pressure before the game.  After losing points against ADO Den Haag (1-1) and Vitesse (1-2), the Ajacieds could not afford any more mistakes.  At first glance, it appeared that this would be tough against sc Heerenveen, a team which is currently in great form and in second place in the Eredivisie rankings.  But Ajax were very successful: 0-4.

Interestingly, all of the Amsterdam team’s goals were scored by three squad newcomers: David Neres (2), Lasse Schöne and Max Wöber.  Thanks to the big win, Ajax heads into the interland period with a good feeling.  The Ajacieds are now in 6th place, 5 points behind leader PSV.

Changes in Ajax' starting eleven
After the loss at home against Vitesse (1-2), Marcel Keizer took drastic measures.  The sick Mitchell Dijks was replaced at left back by Nick Viergever, which meant that there was a free spot for Wöber at midfield.  Starting spots were also allocated to Lasse Schöne and Neres.  They got the nod over Frenkie de Jong and Justin Kluivert, respectively.

Neres repaid his coach’s faith in him by being the hero of the first half, although it didn’t appear that this would be the case at first.  The Brazilian played the ball back too shortly to Andre Onana and thus gave Martin Ødegaard a big opportunity.  The Cameroonian keeper made a save with his feet.

Nail-biter for Ajax

Ajax struggled in the opening phase and escaped a goal against several times.  It was especially tense between the 33rd and 35th minute.  First Kik Pierie hit the post, and Stijn Schaars did the same thing a few minutes later.

It seemed to be just a matter of time before Heerenveen scored the opening goal, but in fact, the first goal was scored on the opposite side of the field.  This was thanks to Neres and Huntelaar, who initiated a great combination.  Neres was on the ball just a fraction sooner than keeper Martin Hansen, and coolly scored the 0-1 goal.  Ajax had made good on its first big opportunity.  The team had other good chances via Wöber (wide header) and Hakim Ziyech (wide free kick and weak shot with his left foot).

Huntelaar feeds Neres again
Things improved even further for the Ajacieds before the break.  Two minutes later, Neres increased the margin to 2, on a Huntelaar pass again.  The striker extended with his head, after which Neres scored from a difficult angle: 0-2.  Thus, despite a tough first half, Ajax headed into halftime with a comfortable lead.

The first bit opportunity of the 2nd half was Ajax’s. Amin Younes had made a great play and passed to Donny van de Beek.  The midfielder extended the ball well, but was unfortunate in finishing.  The steel was hit for the third time of the afternoon.

Ajacieds strike
After 64 minutes, an opportunity arose for Younes.  The German was well served by Ziyech, but his shot, plucked in mid-air, disappeared wide of the Heerenveen goal.  This happened in a phase in which the home team was threatening, but was unable to create any more good opportunities.  Yuki Kobayashi was the most dangerous with a shot onto Onana’s fists.

In the last fifteen minutes, Ajax appeared threateningly in Heereveen’s box.  They achieved success there.  Schöne was allowed to take a shot from 12 yards out, after a Lucas Woudenberg foul on Huntelaar.  He decided the game with his goal: 0-3.  Wöber added a cherry on the cake to his debut in the squad by scoring his first Ajax goal.  The Austrian sent the 4th goal against the ropes after a scrimmage.