Ajax washes away bitter aftertaste

Ajax washes away bitter aftertaste

On Sunday, Ajax made up for its hopeless loss at the hands of FC Salzburg. In the sold out Amsterdam ArenA, the Eredivisie’s leader defeated AZ 4-0. Siem de Jong, Lerin Duarte (2x) and Ricardo Kishna, making his Eredivisie debut, scored the goals.

Three days after a punishing loss against FC Salzburg, Ajax grabbed its chance to redeem itself against AZ. The bitter aftertaste of a 0-3 loss in the ArenA could be washed away with a good result in the North Holland derby. Ajax succeeded. With this, Frank de Boer’s team also made up for the 3-2 loss in Alkmaar earlier this season. This fifth Eredivisie win in a row at home was boosted with beautiful goals. In addition to that, Ajax kept a clean sheet for the twelfth time in 25 competition matches. In summary; there were enough positives to relegate their unfortunate meeting with Salzburg to the background.

Just like Ajax, AZ had also played a midweek UEFA Europa League match. The Alkmaar club posted a win away at Slovan Liberic. The good feeling didn’t translate to the Alkmaar team’s performance in the ArenA. Considering that Ajax was much stronger, the 2009 champion didn’t come anywhere near posting an upset like they did in 1980, when AZ posted the only competition win ever in Amsterdam. In the past two seasons, AZ has left the ArenA with one point, but today they were doomed against the Eredivisie leader.

“We were trumped on every front by Ajax”, was the succinct analysis of AZ coach Dick Advocaat. “We had no replies and didn’t win a single duel.” Frank de Boer: “We redeemed ourselves for last Thursday. Of course we wanted a good result, but we also wanted to get the feeling back from before that match. We did that. The players picked things up where they left off and showed it today. The only shame is that it wasn’t 4-0 before the break.”

Because of injuries – Schöne, Serero and Boilesen – Ajax’s line-up was amended in the necessary places. Daley Blind was on left back and Christian Poulsen took his spot at midfield. Lerin Duarte started at midfield as well. Siem de Jong returned at centre forward with Bojan and Viktor Fischer flanking him. This line-up didn’t remain for very long because Fischer retired early with a hamstring injury. He will definitely miss the return match against Salzburg.

At the moment Fischer retired, Ajax had been in the lead, 1-0, for several minutes. Siem de Jong scored the first goal in the fourth minute. On a pass from Ricardo van Rhijn – after a beautiful Joël Veltman pass – the captain shot the ball into the goal from nearby. After that, De Jong, just like Bojan and Duarte, had a few good opportunities. Especially Duarte had the 2-0 goal at his feet, but AZ defender Gouweleeuw plucked the ball from the line. After that, Ajax didn’t manage to convert its superiority on the field into a broader lead.

At the start of the second half, Ricardo Kishna made his Eredivisie debut. Earlier in the week, he had played his first official minutes against Salzburg. In the 54th minute, he made a contribution in Ajax’s second goal by making the ‘pre-assist’ on Duarte’s goal. The 19 year old forward formed the link between Blind and De Jong, who sent the ball to Duarte. After this series of opportunities for Ajax in the first half, the fans in the ArenA could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

In line with a great Ajax tradition, Kishna crowned his first competition performance with a goal later on. And how. Cold and on field for fifteen minutes, he scored the 3-0 goal on keeper Esteban. First he outplayed opponent Mattias Johansson, and shot the ball into the far corner with his left foot. By scoring a goal in his debut match, the young player joined the ranks of such predecessors as Jairo Riedewald, Davy Klaassen, Siem de Jong, Patrick Kluivert, Clyde Wijnhard, Ronald de Boer, Bryan Roy, Aron Winter, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Johan Cruijff. All of these players scored for Ajax in their Eredivisie debut. De Boer on Kishna: “He’s a player who can make a difference. Of course it’s fantastic for him that he scored such a stunning debut goal. That was great for him. It’s good to see that he can keep up very well in a match like this one.”

Fifteen minutes before time, Duarte made the afternoon even better for the Ajax fans. With a searing shot, he scored his second, and Ajax’s fourth goal of the afternoon. This ended a great football Sunday for Ajax.