Ajax won its friendly match against Panathinaikos 2-0. Arek Milik and Anwar El Ghazi scored the goals at Sportpark de Wachtelenberg in Epe.
After the 3-1 loss against FC Nordsjaelland earlier in the day, Ajax had to redeem itself against Panathinaikos. Things hadn’t gone exactly according to plan in Hardenberg, and Ajax made a weak impression at times. About fifty kilometers further, in Epe, Ajax’s play, with a completely different team, was quite a bit better and more eager.
On the fields of SV Epe, Marc Overmars’ first club, there was a fantastic atmosphere. Around 5.000 fans had travelled to Sportspark de Wachtelenberg, which had been christened the “Wembley of the Veluwe” for the occasion, in honour of the holy grass in England where Ajax had won its first Europa Cup 1 in 1971 at the expense of Panathinaikos.
Ajax was livelier at the start of this game against Panathinaikos than it had been against Nordsjaelland. Under Davy Klaassen’s captaincy, the Greek team was pushed back constantly to their own half. The first opportunities came for Bazoer and Menig, and after that, Arek Milik was dangerous with a free kick, and Klaassen sent a shot from a corner into the side net.
Milik brought Ajax to a well-deserved lead in the 33rd minute. The Pole made a beautiful combination with Schöne and Klaassen through the Greek defense and he rounded off perfectly. Panathinaikos, Greece’s number two, barely had any reply in the first half. De Boer: “The things we asked the players to do while applying pressure and during possession went well. That combination leading up to the 1-0 was great. That’s what you want to see from your creative people.”
After halftime, Ajax remained on top. Lasse Schöne saw his free kick scrambled out of the upper corner, and Mike van der Hoorn sent a header from a rebound into the side net. Soon after, Anwar El Ghazi, who came in after the break for Milik, had a free kick opportunity that went over.
Fifteen minutes before time, the team was totally changed and eight new players (many from the Ajax Reserves) came onto the field. These young kids held their own against Greece’s number two team. Moreover: Ajax scored again. Just before time, El Ghazi, after a good play by Vaclav Cerny, determined the final score with a perfectly placed shot: 2-0, exactly the same score as in the EC finals from 1971.
Panathinaikos may possibly have a chance to take their revenge soon, since the team of former Ajacied Yannis Anastasiou is one of five teams against whom Ajax can be matched during the Champions League qualifying rounds. This will be determined in next week’s draw. The most important thing for now is that Ajax can continue to prepare well for the upcoming season.