Ajax wins, but dream scenario doesn’t come true

Ajax wins, but dream scenario doesn’t come true

This could have been a historic week for Ajax, but the conclusion of the Eredivisie didn’t give Ajax its desired outcome.  It was clear early on that Feyenoord would defeat Heracles Almelo, making this away game at Willem II insignificant for the rankings.  But the Ajacieds did their job and won the game.  Thanks to goals by Kasper Dolberg, Davinson Sanchez and Davy Klaassen, the final score was 1-3.

Ajax’s focus is now completely on the UEFA Europa League final against Manchester United taking place on May 24.  Should the Ajacieds win, they will be assured of playing in the Champions League group phase.  Should they lose, Ajax will need to play a third-round qualifying match, which they have earned with their Eredivisie standing.

Squad full of youngsters
Ajax arrived in Tilburg well-prepared.  After the amazing European game in Lyon, the Ajacieds were hoping to take care of business once again.  The game in France had definitely left wear-and-tear marks on the team, and this was reason enough for Peter Bosz to shake up his line-up, just as he had one week ago against Go Ahead Eagles (4-0).

It would be an understatement to say that Ajax played with a team of youg, talented players.  Bosz send the youngest team ever in the history of the Eredivisie onto the field.  The average age was 20 years and 139 days.  Davy Klassen, at 24 years old, was the veteran.

In 2017, communication lines are short between the football fields, thus the message came through that Feyenoord had taken the lead in the first minute.  When the score became 2-0 after eleven minutes in de Kuip, it became clear that nothing short of a miracle would suffice for Ajax to win the national championship.

The Ajacieds seemed to be aware of the intermediate score, as their play was unspectacular.  Ajax did play on Willem II’s half, but this didn’t lead to many opportunities.  Justin Kluivert was on a roll, however, and was responsible for pretty much all of Ajax’s threats against their opponents.

Klaassen fails to score
The left winger sent two great passes to Klaassen.  Both times, the captain didn’t quite manage.  Midway through the first half, Kluivert had the chance to pull the trigger himself, but after a fluid attack and a pass from Jairo Riedewald, he stumbled onto keeper Kostas Lamprou.

The well-deserved win followed after 38 minutes.  Not surprisingly, Kluivert had a hand in this one, too.  Once again launched by Riedewald, he then sent a perfect pass to Dolberg: 0-1.  This was one of the Dane’s last plays.  After the break, he was replaced by Bertrand Traoré.

Game much more open in second half
The score became 0-2 early in the second half.  Sanchez sent a header diagonally into the goal from a corner from the left side.  Willem II hadn’t created any opportunities up until that point, but received a big chance.  This was the result of a miscommunication between Sanchez and Abdelhak Nouri, who had just come in.  Funso Ojo was able to take a free shot, but found the strong Andre Onana in his way.

In the remainder of the game, Ajax had more opportunities to increase the score, but Klaassen is the only one who scored.  He was the final stop of a beautiful attack, which also included Nouri and Kluivert.

Traoré and David Neres (2x) weren’t able to score, so the damage for Willem II was limited.  Moreover, the Tilburg team brought the score to 1-3 thanks to a goal by Jari Schuurman.  The midfielder had been prevented from scoring earlier by Onana.

Take a look at the match’s photo report, here