Ajax has closed the 2017-218 season with a 1-2 win against Excelsior on Sunday afternoon. In Rotterdam, the Amsterdam team was down a goal due to an own goal by captain Matthijs de Ligt, but Justin Kluivert and Kasper Dolberg turned it around. Azor Matisuwa had a great debut.
Coach Erik ten Hag shook up his line for the last game of the season. Siem de Jong and Max Wöber were both injured and remained in Amsterdam. Andre Onana and David Neres were in attendance, but were on the bench. Kasper Dolberg received a chance to catch the Danish national team coach’s eye leading up to the World Cup, as the assistant coach Jon Dahl Tomasson was watching the game from the stands. It was Kostas Lamprou’s first performance in the Eredivisie for Ajax, and Azor Matusiwa made his debut and was in the squad right away.
There were thus enough elements to make it a great final show. On paper – as Ajax was unable to get their act together on the unyielding artificial turf. After fifteen minutes, the first opportunity to score the opening goal came. Justin Kluivert received the ball beautifully from Hakim Ziyech, but found keeper Kristinson in his way.
Own goal for Ajax, injury for Huntelaar
It was Excelsior that took the lead, in fact, but not on its own steam. Matthijs de Ligt wanted to play the ball back to his keeper, but the latter was standing in a different spot than the captain had expected. The ball rolled past Lamprou into the empty goal: 1-0.
The game ended in the 37th minute for Huntelaar due to an injury. Neres was his replacement and he earned a corner on his first contact with the ball. But even he was unable to give Ajax the energy that it needed to make the game more compelling.
Kluivert scores tying goal with a header
In the second half, Ajax was a lot better. In the 47th minute, the tying goal was scored. Kluivert sent a header, from a beautiful pass from Ziyech, and scored the 1-1 goal. It was his 10th of the season, meaning that he’s the 5th Ajax player who has 10 goals of more. Neres (14), Huntelaar (13), Van de Beek (11), and Schöne (10) are the other 4.
Dolberg scores from twelve yards out
The combinations became more fluid after the tying goal and Neres had the 1-2 goal at his feed after a pass from Mazraoui. That opportunity wasn’t converted, but in the 53rd minute, Dolberg took a shot from twelve yards out after Ziyech had been unceremoniously hit. The Danish striker didn’t hesitate: 1-2. Shortly after that, Mattheij touched Kluivert’s attempt with his arm on the goal line, but Nijhuis didn’t award a penalty shot.
Mateo Cassierra came in for the last 20 minutes for Dolberg, who seemed somewhat worn out during the duels. In the last minutes, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp earned some Eredivisie time. Excelsion was threatening in the closing minuts, but Lamprou didn’t concede. In extra time, Ajax had opportunities from Cassierra and Ziyech, but didn’t score again.
Most goals, fewest goals against
This season, Ajax scored the most goals, had the fewest goals against, but had to content itself with second place. Next week, Ajax leaves for Dubai, and will have holidays after that. Pre-season starts again in June.