Ajax beat Willem II by 2-0 on Saturday evening. Four days prior to the first Champions League match against Real Madrid, Luis Suarez scored both goals in the Amsterdam Arena. Both goals were penalty kicks. Thanks to this win Ajax travels to the Bernabéu unscathed on Tuesday.
The statistics of the previous 36 meetings between Ajax and Willem II in Amsterdam (goal difference 136-20), the the many goals of the past editions and the respective positions in the table (Ajax leading and Willem II last) seemed to point at an evening of goals. It turned out to be different.
Niki Mäenpää did not have as much to do in the first half as many expected. The Finnish keeper was barely tested by the Ajax players, the first real danger coming after eighteen minutes. Siem de Jong came close to the opener off an Urby Emanuelson cross. Ajax’ number 10 missed the chance to put his team ahead from close range. Five minutes later Demy de Zeeuw was on his way to a goal, but the hard pass by Vurnon Anita was well intercepted by the Willem II goalkeeper.
After exactly half an hour Ajax got lucky. Defender Arjan Swinkels had a go from distance and saw his shot saved on the goal line –almost giving the visiting fans from Tilburg a reason to cheer. Their enjoyment lasted shortly, as Swinkels again was in the limelight though now on the other end of the field. He brought down Luis Suarez in the penalty area after which the Ajax captain put himself behind the ball. He did not miss his chance at his one hundredth Eredivisie goal and converted confidently. The rest of the first half only brought a couple of long range shots by Emanuelson and De Zeeuw.
In the second half, Ajax again needed a penalty to score. Again it was Suarez who was knocked out of balance by Bart Biemans, after which referee Makkelie pointed towards the spot. The Uruguay striker now made good for his eightieth Ajax league goal. These scenes were observed by Sjaak Swart (celebrating his 60 year Ajax membership anniversary) and by Johan Cruyff, among the 47.702 strong crowd.
Suarez hunted for a third, and came close after a blistering volley which was well saved by Mäenpää. Emanuelson, with a stylish free kick from the corner of the box that came off the post, also came close to the 3-0.
In the last half hour, Martin Jol brought in Ooijer and Sulejmani for defenders Alderweireld and Anita. With the 2-0 lead half the defensive line could already rest and prepare for the Champions League match in the Bernabéu next Wednesday. Ajax cruised to the end of the match, in which no further goals would be made. Ooijer came close to his first for Ajax but his header was disallowed due to a foul by Verthongen. Teemu Tainio made his debut for Ajax in the last minutes. The recently acquired Finnish midfielder replaced Demy de Zeeuw. Jol was happy to see all players leave the field in perfect unscathed, allowing Ajax to travel to Madrid at full strength, barring the suspended Suarez and Verthongen.
“Willem II came here to keep spaces tight and they did that well” Jol commented after the match. “Normally our fans are not used to 2-0 home results. We tend to score more, but I am satisfied all the same. Especially in the second half we were able to present some attractive play”