Ajax squanders points again

Ajax squanders points again

Ajax has once again wasted points after a European match. Martin Jol’s team lost 1-0 in the Amsterdam ArenA to ADO, giving the team from The Hague their first win on Amsterdam soil in 24 years. Wesley Verhoek’s winning goal came shortly before halftime, costing Ajax precious points once again in its quest for the title.

To make matters worse, Ajax didn’t escape their European match unscathed, either. As it’s happened before during this season, Ajax couldn’t follow up their midweek Champions League match with a competition win. Four days after going under 2-1 to Auxerre, things went awry again for Ajax. After thirteen games, ten of Ajax’s twelve loss points are due to their European matches. Moreover, this loss to ADO marked Ajax’s second loss at home this season, while last season, they only gave away two points at home.

ADO Den Haag showed off their current good form in Amsterdam. Without hesitation, the club, where Jol used to be active as both a coach and a player, went on a merciless hunt to win. It even seemed to motivate ADO that its last win in Amsterdam took place almost 25 years ago.

Compared to the Auxerre match, Jol modified his starting line-up in two positions. André Ooijer returned against ADO, after his European suspension, forcing Toby Alderweireld to give up his spot in the heart of defence. Eyong Enoh also remained on the bench, and midfield thus was made up of De Zeeuw, De Jong, and Lindgren. ADO coach John van Brom, who was head of youth training at Ajax and Jong Ajax’s coach between 2004 and 2007, left his line-up unchanged, starting the same eleven players who had defeated FC Utrecht last week.

Besides a few chances and an early Oleguer – Van der Wiel swap (bruised right leg), the first half in the ArenA was fairly uneventful. Only a handful of memorable moments came out of 45 minutes of football. The visitors from The Hague got a good opportunity when Ricky van den Burgh fired a warning shot. Maarten Stekelenburg made an outstanding save. But after that, it wasn’t until the 35th minute that the Ajax crowd could cheer. Mounir El Hamdaoui came close with a shot on the pivot, but found keeper Coutinho in his way.

One minute before halftime, ADO made good. The guests’ gutsy attempts to score were rewarded. In an unlucky moment for Ajax, Wesley Verhoek brought his team into the lead. With a considered shot, on a good Van den Bergh pass, he put the 1-0 into the back of the net. The ADO dug out erupted happily, with the scoring player ending up under a pile of cheering team mates.

But, with Sulejmani coming in for Anita after the break, the damage couldn’t be repaired. In fact, ADO had several good opportunities to score again. Especially Verhoek’s shot against the upper corner came dangerously close to sealing Ajax’s fate. The home team didn’t have much to offer the 43.914 spectators in return.

Midway through the second half, Jol played his last card. Bringing Eriksen in for De Zeeuw, he hoped to give his team a fresh offensive impulse. But the change had little impact. De Jong came into a good position towards the end, but Ajax’s number ten didn’t manage to convert.

“This is a good win for ADO”, said Jol afterwards. “Especially in the second half, we didn’t have much to counter with.” Referring to his choice for Eriksen instead of strongman Mido during the 0-1 game, Ajax’s coach said this: “De Jong is good with headers, and Eriksen is a creative player. With that combination, I thought we could succeed. Looking back, I’m a bit upset with myself for not having done it differently.”