Frank de Boer was satisfied with the 1-3 win. But he was significantly less satisfied with the Amsterdam team’s play after the break. De Boer saw Ajax’s deterioration as being almost fatal.
“This was a good lesson for the team. Defending is a bad councillor”, was De Boer’s critical evaluation of Ajax’s play in the second half of the top match in the Philips Stadium. “I’m pleased with the points, but not with the second half. After the break, we were mediocre. That’s a shame, because you want to play well. We had a lot of room to play in the first half and we often found the free man. We didn’t do that enough in the second half.”
Still, the competition match had some positive points. Based on a good period before the break and the victory, Ajax gained a lot of confidence for the next part of the competition. The Amsterdam team has a firm hold on second place. AZ is in third place, trailing Ajax by six points. “We knew that PSV wanted to deal us the final blow in this match”, continued De Boer. “In the first twenty minutes, we had no reply to the way PSV were playing. After that, we gained some control. We were threatening via Bazoer feeding El Ghazi. After the 0-1, we became even more dangerous.”
What bothered De Boer more than anything was Ajax’s meekness after the break. This was very educational. The Ajax players need to learn from the mistakes that were made mainly in the second half. “In the second half, we took a step backwards in terms of our play. PSV was making much better decisions; we were barely able to glean any opportunities. This is when the 1-1 happened. At that point, it was pretty much what we deserved. Based on individual class and luck, we happened to win. We didn’t necessarily deserve it, especially as I didn’t see much Ajax after the break. But anyway, it’s also happened that we’ve been better than an opponent, and ended up with no points at the end.”
De Boer complimented Riechedly Bazoer and Anwar El Ghazi. The first held himself very well and convincingly in a hostile Philips Stadium. The Eindhoven crowd jeered its former youth player incessantly. El Ghazi was valuable in his roles, both as right winger and centre forward. The multi-functional Ajacied assisted on the 0-1 goal and scored the 1-3 goal. De Boer: “Both guys were impressive in their approach.”
Ajax thus decreased its deficit on leader PSV. De Boer thinks that it’s inevitable that PSV will win the championship. “I’m not expecting PSV, eleven points ahead, to have problems, especially not if they play at the same level as they did today. We’re obviously going to try to make it difficult for them. The spirit is good, that’s a start. The point is improving our game.”