Three days after an exhausting win against Schalke 04, Ajax suffered a costly loss of points against PSV: 1-0. Jürgen Locadia sealed the Amsterdam team’s fate on Sunday. With this defeat, Ajax’s chances of winning the championship are now only theoretical. With 2 matches left, leader Feyenoord is 4 points ahead.
The duel in Eindhoven seamlessly followed Feyenoord’s away game against Cup finalist Vitesse. The Ajacieds kicked off their match in the Philips Stadium knowing that the leader had won its away game, 2-0. At 16:45, their task was crystal clear: they needed to reduce Feyenoord’s lead (again) to just one point.
How had Ajax processed their win against Schalke 04?
The question prior to the game was how the Ajacieds had processed their exhausting UEFA Europa League game against Schalke 04. Barely three days after the return game in Gelsenkirchen, the Amsterdam team seemed worn out. Reaching the UEFA Europa League semi-finals had definitely taken a physical and mental toll on Peter Bosz’s team.
The Ajax coach sent both Bertrand Traoré and Kasper Dolberg onto the field as starting forwards. The loaned-out Chelsea player from Burkina Faso started on the right, and the Dane was Ajax’s starting centre forward.
Locadia sends free kick clearly past Onana
Without making an especially good impression, PSV took the lead in the 25th minute. Ten minutes after Hakim Ziyech had seen his (and Ajax’s) free kick end up in the PSV wall, Jürgen Locadia struck gold with his free kick. The wing forward shot the ball from a distance of 24,5 meters clearly past Andre Onana.
The pressure increased after this for the Bosz brigade. Ziyech once again (this time, Jeroen Zoet stopped his free kick) and Lasse Schöne (high shot) made brave attempts, but didn’t manage to score a tying goal for their team.
Another setback as Traoré stops
Locadia’s goal wasn’t the only setback in the first 45 minutes. Traoré’s early retirement from the game was another one. The right winger had seemed drained, or at least not completely fit, from the start. In the 43rd minute, the African was unable to continue. Justin Kluivert came in for him. Midway through the tumultuous match, Bosz made another change. Amin Younes remained in the locker room; David Neres was his replacement.
Five minutes after coming in, the Brazilian was immediately dangerous. Neres picked up a quick throw-in by Joël Veltman and shot the ball just a fraction wide. Ten minutes later, Schöne saw his low shot disappear wide of Zoet’s goal.
During this phase of the game, several smoke bombs were set off. A thick cloud of smoke spread over a part of the Philips Stadium. A set of dark clouds seemed to gather above the Ajacieds as well…
Ajax makes brave recovery
The visitors bravely recovered half an hour before time. With substitutes Kluivert and Neres making the most threats, Ajax pushed hard. The final offensive, however, didn’t deliver the desired results for the visitors. Davy Klaassen was the most dangerous Ajacied; his shot sailed high over. The loss seemed unavoidable.
Its close competitor’s loss made Feyenoord the uncontested winner of this 32nd round of play. The Rotterdam team increased their lead to 4 points. Feyenoord can seal the long-awaited and passionately desired title in two weeks in its own city, against Excelsior.
After this away game, the Rotterdam team will have another chance in De Kuip against Heracles. Ajax now needs to refocus on vying for second place on the national level. Their lead against PSV has now decreased to 3 points. May is the month during which Ajax could potentially make history in the Europa League.
Also read: PSV - Ajax in pictures