Ajax showed resilience and class in their home game against sc Heerenveen. In the sold-out Amsterdam ArenA, the Ajacieds turned a 0-1 deficit into a resounding 5-1 win.
Three days after their stunning performance in the UEFA Europa League, the Ajacieds continued their pursuit of the championship on the Eredivisie stage. Where Ajax had taken a good first step towards the semi-finals against Schalke 04, Sunday’s mission was all about remaining in leader Feyenoord’s track. The Rotterdam team had won their home game against sub-top team FC Utrecht by 1-0 earlier in the afternoon.
Kasper Dolberg returns as the starting centre forward
Compared to Thursday, Bosz had made some changes in a few high-profile spots. Kasper Dolberg, having recovered from his injury, returned as the starting centre forward. This was at the expense of Bertrand Traoré, who started on the bench. Lasse Schöne had been suspended for the first quarter-final match against Schalke, and watched from the stands. The Dane’s return now sent Donny van de Beek, who had done an outstanding job filling in on Thursday evening, to the bench. Daley Sinkgraven’s injury freed a spot on the squad for central defender Matthijs de Ligt. Nick Viergever started as left back.
Ajax made an apathetic start to its second-to-last home game of the season (only Go Ahead Eagles will still visit the ArenA). Bosz’s team seemed exhausted and, in the first half, they played well under the level of their home game against Schalke.
Heerenveen counters to 0-1
Miscommunication during a promising Ajax attack – Klaassen and Dolberg got their wires crossed – was immediately punished. Heerenveen countered immediately via Sam Larsson and final stop Reza Ghoochannejhad to a lead. Ghoochannejhad sent a controlled ball past Andre Onana in the eighth minute: 0-1.
In front of 130 former Ajacieds and participants from the sixth Ajax reunion, the Ajacieds restored the setting to the correct one for present-day Ajax. The conviction and sharpness returned to Ajax’s game. In the ArenA, sold-out for weeks, Dolberg shot his header onto the post. After that, Hakim Ziyech and Dolberg again came close to scoring the tying goal. Heerenveen keeper Erwin Mulder made the saves. The former Feyenoord player also was ready for Matthijs de Ligt’s blazing shot.
De Ligt’s rocket
De Ligt’s rocket led to the tying goal. The first Ajax attack landed into the Fries goal via Viergever. Curiously, the left defender sent the ball into the goal with his abdomen.
The second Ajax goal came soon afterwards. During a one-two that De Ligt initiated himself with Dolberg, the Ajax teenager personally pulled the trigger: 2-1. Ajax had turned around its position fifteen minutes before halftime; down initially, now on top. Davy Klaassen scored the 3-1 goal, after a combination with Neres, shortly before the break.
Heerenveen disillusioned at halftime
Heerenveen started off hopeful for success in the ArenA, but Coach Jurgen Streppel’s Fries team was disillusioned at halftime. Ajax’s win was never in danger after that. Fifteen minutes after Ziyech had sent a free kick onto the post, the home team received a penalty. Substitute Morten Thorsby had hauled Dolberg down onto the grass. The Danish centre forward repeated Klaassen’s feat from Thursday: Dolberg sent the ball flawlessly into the goal: 4-1.
The last highlights of Ajax – Heerenveen were Deyovaisio Zeefuik’s official debut in the 69th minute, and Neres’ 5-1 goal. Seven minutes before time, he was successfully launched by Amin Younes. The Brazilian right winger was too fast for his guard Wout Faes, as well as Mulder: 5-1.
Everything is possible in the Eredivisie
The home game that thus started poorly was turned around for full points. Resilient Ajax brought its deficit against Feyenoord back to one single point. One week before the competition game against PSV in Eindhoven, everything is still possible in the Eredivisie for Ajax.