Ajax performed excellently in the battle for the championship on Sunday. Frank de Boer’s team won 3-0 against RKC Waalwijk in the Amsterdam ArenA, thanks to goals by Jan Vertonghen, Siem de Jong and Lorenzo Ebecilio. Because PSV and FC Twente both tripped up, Ajax is now the new number 2 of the Eredivisie.
Every little thing is gonna be allright by Bob Marley blared through the stadium as the second half of the match commenced. By then it was already clear that PSV had lost 3-1 to NAC Breda earlier that afternoon. FC Twente was also trailing, creating a fantastic atmosphere in the ArenA. Forty five minutes later FC Twente’s defeat was final, which meant the cheers in the Arena weren’t just reserved for any goals being scored. To top it all, Ajax surpassed Twente and PSV in the league table, making the weekend increasingly more beautiful.
Since the turn of the year Ajax has caught up with its competitors considerably. The look on Jan Vertonghen’s face as he looked at the score board after the match, spoke volumes. The virtual ranking in the Eredivisie puts Ajax in second place, just behind AZ. Who would have dared imagine that a few weeks ago? Add to that the fact that PSV, Twente and AZ still have to play matches for the cup and in the UEFA Europa League, whereas Ajax doesn’t. With a series of home games and the clash with PSV ahead a similar scenario to last season’s is looming on the horizon. ,,That would be fine by me”, Frank de Boer said after the match. ,,I think we can keep this up. We must be less careless, though. If you’re careless against top clubs, you could suffer for it. We can and we must do even better.”
Apart from the good news from Nijmegen and Breda, Ajax also did what it had to do: win. Jan Vertonghen put Ajax in the lead after just under thirty minutes. Ricardo van Rhijn gave a flick-on header to a corner by Theo Janssen, after which the Belgian gave the ball that final nudge at the second post: 1-0. Just on the stroke of halftime Vertonghen could have doubled the score, but his header was cleared off the goal line by RKC defender Ard van Peppen. Ten minutes after half time Siem de Jong had more luck. After a badly played back pass by Adil Auassar, the striker responded adequately and shot the intercepted ball past Jeroen Zoet, the goalkeeper: 2-0.
With the halftime score standing at 2-0 (and the knowledge of the situation on the other football pitches) the atmosphere in the ArenA became almost Championship like. The surprising number 9 of the Eredivisie, playing without the injured Ajax rental Geoffrey Castillion, did offer some resistance, but they never posed a real threat. The bigger opportunities were reserved for Ajax. Halfway through the second half the 51,353 spectators almost had cause for cheering again. De Jong’s powerful header nearly resulted in a third goal for Ajax, but goalkeeper Zoet saved brilliantly.
The remainder of the match did see a third goal for Ajax after all. Substitute Dmitry Bulykin revealed himself as a feeder instead of a scorer for once and thus enabled Lorenzo Ebecilio to score. The man who scored a hat trick against Roda JC last week, headed the ball from a crossing pass from the right and scored: 3-0. And so the supporters who stayed until the very last moment were treated to a bonus. In two weeks time they will all be there again when Ajax takes on PSV in a sold out ArenA. First though, the away match against ADO Den Haag awaits them. And because the next round in the Eredivisie also features the matches FC Twente - Feyenoord and PSV - sc Heerenveen, that day promises to be a thrilling Sunday for the Ajax fans as well.