Labelled ‘Super Wednesday’ by the media, this season’s 29th round of play was first and foremost a super evening for Ajax. The league leader was the only one of the six championship contenders to win, and thus strengthened their lead. Fellow championship contender sc Heerenveen was defeated by Ajax 0-5, which marks Ajax’s biggest ever away victory at Heerenveen. Siem de Jong scored no fewer than three goals. Ajax is now 3 points ahead of AZ and enjoys a much better goal balance.
Ajax played at the ‘European’ 9p.m. timeslot against sc Heerenveen. Coach Frank de Boer was finally able to use Gregory van der Wiel and Derk Boerrigter again. The two players returned after being side-lined by injuries for months, but neither of them was in the starting selection. Sitting on the bench next to De Boer were virtually all (new of former) internationals. Boerrigter and Van der Wiel, Eyong Enoh, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and André Ooijer all have a long list of credits to their names. Despite this wealth of experience, the Ajax coach chose Jody Lukoki and Ismaïl Aissati on the flanks. Ricardo van Rhijn didn’t relinquish his starting spot to Gregory van der Wiel, either.
The tension beforehand was palpable. There was much at stake and a tense match was expected. But Ajax was solidly in the driver’s seat. Only minutes after the AZ- Twente match had ended in a tie (2-2), referee Kevin Blom sent Heerenveen goalie Brian Vandenbussche off the field with a red card. He had hauled down Siem de Jong, after Jeffrey Gouweleeuw had defended poorly, allowing the Ajax player to get possession. In an attempt to save the situation, Vandenbussche hauled De Jong down onto the grass. Moreover, coach Ron Jans offered up swift left winger Luciano Nasingh, because obviously a new keeper needed to come in. Kristoffer Nordfeldt had the thankless task of keeping Theo Janssen from scoring, but the Ajax player made good with his penalty kick: 0-1.
One minute later, Nordfeldt made a good save on a Siem de Jong header, but 25 minutes later, the Heerenveen goalie had to fish the ball out of the goal twice. Ismaïl Aissati took a beautiful shot from the left side into the upper left corner, and in the 25th minute it was Siem de Jong’s turn who beat Nordfeldt with a great shot; 0-3. The scenario only got better, because at the moment that it became clear that PSV had lost to RKC (2-1), and Feyenoord got only one point at Roda, Ajax stood at 0-4. After a great Ajax attack, in which Christian Eriksen cleverly left the ball for De Jong, Nordfeldt committed the blunder of letting the ball slip through his hands. Shortly after that, Bloom whistled for halftime.
In the second half, Boerrigter made his return to Ajax 1. After he had crowned his return by scoring two goals with Jong Ajax last week, he was ready for his real job. Although, with a score of 0-4, it wasn’t very tense. But still, the way Heerenveen started the second half was worthy of a compliment. They sought to attack, perhaps hoping that top scorer Bas Dost could add onto to his 25 goals. But then, the Fries team were finished, after Ajax scored again. Siem de Jong scored his third in the 63rd minute. Shortly after that, Jans substituted his centre forward, Dost. At the same time as the top scorer exited, a noteworthy entry took place on Ajax’s side: Gregory van der Wiel substituted for Toby Alderweireld. And Kolbeinn Sigthórsson played for twenty minutes. The centre forward came in for Janssen and sent a header onto the crossbar in the 84th minute.
In the closing minutes, Siem de Jong had the chance to add to his great night with a fourth goal, but his shot just missed in front. The score remained 0-5 and Ajax booked its ninth victory in a row, with its sixth clean sheet in a row. Coach Frank de Boer was pleased. “You don’t expect to have such an easy time. The first three minutes told the story of the match: we here helped early by the red card and penalty kick. After that, we didn’t give Heerenveen the idea that they could get anything. We put on the pressure, kept possession and scored at the right times. In the second half, we could have scored more, but we wasted strength. Fortunately I could give some minutes to the guys who hadn’t played for a long time, thanks to the score.”
“This is a very important step. We need to get nine points in the next matches. We’re enjoying the result from tonight and then we’ll focus on the match against De Graafschap, because that match is coming up on Sunday. De Graafschap is fighting for their last chance, so we can’t underestimate them”, ended De Boer realistically, after a beautiful Wednesday evening.