Ajax did well in the season’s first Klassieker. Four days after their mid-week Champions League match against Real Madrid, the team from Amsterdam defeated Feyenoord 1-2 on Sunday afternoon.
Ajax was in a good position from the start, especially in light of the 2009-2010 Klassieker statistics. For the first time ever, four Klassiekers took place last season. Twice in regular competition, and then during the KNVB Cup final, which was split over two matches. Ajax won three of the four duels (home 5-1, cup finals 2-0 and 4-1). The away match against the team from Rotterdam resulted in a 1-1 tie.
Each club approached the 164th Klassieker in its own way. Mario Been’s Feyenoord team had prepared for the match behind closed doors. In contrast, Ajax opened the ArenA doors to give 800 supporters the opportunity to wish the team good luck, and to see Ajax train once more after their European adventure in the Spanish capital. In that respect, Feyenoord had a longer, and more uneventful, preparation for this match against their opponents from Amsterdam. Ajax had to play a mid-week Champions League match against Real Madrid. After a 2-0 loss to the Royal team, Martin Jol’s men returned on Thursday from their European ‘champion’s match’ to competition football.
In comparison the starting line-up against Madrid, Jol made changes in four areas. Jan Vertonghen and captain Luis Suarez – both suspended against Real Madrid – returned to the squad. Miralem Sulejmani got the nod instead of Urby Emanuelson, and Demy de Zeeuw conceded his spot to Rasmus Lindgren.
From referee Kevin Blom’s first whistle, the Amsterdam team – with an average age of 23 and 251 days, younger than Feyenoord with 24 years and 115 days – put the pressure on. Luis Suarez had a great opportunity in the first minute. The Uruguayan captain shot form the right, just missing the goal. Within a few minutes, after a good one-two with Siem de Jong, he took two hard shots on Rob van Dijk’s goal. But it was Feyenoord who scored the first goal thanks to Fedor Smolov, but his goal was disqualified as offside. After this warning shot, Ajax shifted into a higher gear. After forty minutes, this effort paid off for the team from Amsterdam. De Jong’s header, on Miralem Sulejmani’s free kick, went into past keeper Van Dijk. The Ajax player’s free ball was inadvertently extended by Feyenoorder Stefan de Vrij, and De Jong was able to send in his header from close by.
In the second half, the royal Suarez – El Hamdaoui pair had a few opportunities to make it 0-2. First, Suarez beautifully set up Ajax’s number 9, who in turn took a hard shot against the post. El Hamdaoui then lobbed it out, and Suarez hit the post twice. But in the 56th minute, Ajax’s anticipated second goal finally came. El Hamdaoui beat Van Dijk on a good pass from Suarez.
Feyenoord scored twice shortly before the end. Luc Castaignos scored after El Hamdaoui didn’t play the ball back properly. The goal was disqualified as offside. André Bahia then made good from a corner kick: 1-2.
After the match, Martin Jol expressed his satisfaction with the win in de Kuip. “In the first half, we were in a better phase. It’s a shame that it we didn’t score more goals. It’s too bad that it ended up 1-2, but all in all we’re satisfied to have won a tricky away match against Feyenoord.”