What started out as being a match to secure second place ended up being part of a euphoric afternoon. Not only because of the final score of Ajax – Go Ahead Eagles. The 4-0 win was in line with expectations and the balance of power on the field. But what brought joy to each and every Ajax heart was the news from Rotterdam. Feyenoord lost its championship match to Excelsior, 3-0. The championship will be decided on the final day of competition play!
An interesting week awaits Ajax. The Ajacieds will play the return match in Lyon on Thursday. With a 4-1 victory in the pocket from the first match, a spot in the Europa League finals seems within reach. Next to that, Ajax is still in the running for the national championship. Feyenoord is definitely still the favourite, with more points, but the big question will be how the Rotterdam team process this blow dealt to them by Excelsior. Feyenoord will play its final game at home against Heracles Almelo, and Ajax will visit Willem II.
Disappointment in Deventer
On the other side of the Amsterdam euphoria was disappointment for Go Ahead. Due to this loss, the Deventer club will be officially degraded. Ajax saw PSV tie their game, and is thus assured of second place, and therefore the Champions League qualifying rounds. But the Ajacieds still have two irons in the fire in terms of qualifying directly for the Champions League group phase.
Beforehand, Peter Bosz has announced that he would most likely give several players the day off to rest. The coach feels that his selection is broad enough and good enough for him do feel comfortable to start with eleven different players than usual. It wasn’t eleven, but Bosz made changes to seven spots compared to the win at home against Olympique Lyon (4-1). Only Andre Onana, Jairo Riedewald, Davy Klaassen and Kasper Dolberg remained.
One of the new players on the Amsterdam side had the first big scoring opportunity of the match. David Neres shot a precise pass from Justin Kluivert over Theo Zwarthoed’s goal. The Go Ahead goalie was able to breathe easily afterwards when Abdelhak Nouri freed himself up, but shot just wide of his target.
Nice assist by Neres
The lead came after 24 minutes. Kluivert caught a ball outside of the penalty kick area and outplayed Zwarthoed with a dry low shot. Five minutes later, the score was doubled. It was Dolberg who scored this one, but the goal was, in large part, thanks to Neres. The Brazilian passed three Go Ahead players and sent a tailor-made pass to Dolberg after that. The Dane scored the 2-0 goal via Joey Suk’s body.
In an almost identical manner, Neres put Nouri in a scoring position, but Zwarthoed prevented the industrious midfielder from scoring his first Eredivisie goal. Ajax had the most opportunities, but Go Ahead also took some shots. The visitors broke away threateningly at times, with Antonia’s goal being the most dangerous one. The former Ajacied saw his goal get disqualified due to Sam Hendriks’ offside – the latter also has a past at the Toekomst sports complex.
Davy Klaassen remained in the locker room after halftime. He was replaced by Frenkie de Jong, who didn’t need long to distinguish himself. Three minutes into his playing time, he scored his first Ajax 1 goal with a header. It was one-way traffic towards Go Ahead’s goal, but first Kluivert, and then Dolberg, failed to score the 4-0 goal.
Fans can’t believe their eyes
At a certain moment, the Ajax fans’ focus shifted. This came from the message from Rotterdam that Excelsior had taken a 3-0 lead in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. The Ajax fans couldn’t believe their eyes. Would the 34th national title end up in Ajax’s trophy case?
But the players on the field had no time for euphoria. The Aajcieds wanted to build up the score, as the goal balance could be important. Ajax has several chances, but only substitute Mateo Cassierra managed to score. That was the only downside of an otherwise perfect afternoon. The score could definitely have been higher.