VVV Venlo-Ajax 0-4 (0-1) Ajax didn’t play their best game ever against VVV Venlo. Even Luis Suarez can’t look back on it as the strongest performance of his career. Ajax beat VVV with a big score nonetheless, on the strength of four goals from Suarez, thanks to great timing.
Making the best decisions at the right time is an art. Creating the right opportunities – and making good on them – is a reward in itself. Luis Suarez showed what he’s made of in the Seacon-De Koel Stadium, by creating four genuine highlights in an otherwise very average game. After ninety minutes of play in sunny Limburg, the cards were dealt: Ajax went home with three points, and Suarez returned to Amsterdam with the match ball for his hat trick, and lofty praise.
“Our young defense kept a clean sheet, they did very well” Martin Jol began his recap with a compliment. However the Ajax coach wasn’t only giving compliments. He alos saw his team struggle at times against their hosts.
Vurnon Anita was the surprise starter for Ajax. The slight midfielder was designated by Jol to substitute Eyong Enoh, who was sidelined due to a groin injury. Anita immediately was given the tough job of guarding Keisuke Honda. Urby Emanuelson began at left back, while Kennedy covered the right wing. Ismaïl Aissati also had a place on the starting team. The lefty was on left wing, but also backed the forwards Luis Suarez and Dario Cvitanich. Ajax was otherwise in the same formation as in the last weeks. Siem de Jong was kept in the stands at the last moment.
Captain Suarez delivered an early lead to his team. The Uruguayan player converted a deep move – thanks to Dario Cvitanich’s assist – in the third minute with a precise header: 0-1. VVV keeper Dennis Gentenaar stopped another attempt one minute later. The ex-Ajax player tipped a dangerous long shot from Kennedy over the goal with his fingertips. After fifteen minutes, Suarez could have served his team well with an assist, which would have given his team a 0-2 lead. He finished a burst over right poorly by not reaching the well positioned Aissati and Cvitanich. That could have decided the match in the early stages.
“After our quick goal, we didn’t manage to keep the pressure on our opponents the way we did in the first minutes”, continued Jol. “It wasn’t until the second half that we gained more control in midfield”.
A long range shot from Ken Leemans, as well as some succesfull plays from the lightning quick Ruben Schaken, formed the main threat from Venlo before the break. Honda, VVV’s attraction in the past weeks, was fairly invisible both before and after halftime. The Japanese only presented two missed attempts before half time. Honda’s invisibility was a credit to Anita, who covered the forward very effectively. Fifteen minutes before the end, the worn down midfielder was replaced by Mitchell Donald.
Because Ajax only scored once against the still unbeaten Limburgers, VVV kept hope for a positive result. Ajax’ advantage was shaky for quite a while. Due to at times sloppy defending by the Amsterdam team, VVV’s hope for a small stunt smoldered. Achmed Ahahaoui just missed target, while Schaken also could have punished the inaccuracy.
Twenty minutes from the end, Ajax regained control and finally put an end to the uncertainty. After being found by Sulejmani, Suarez made his way through Venlo’s defense, and passed Gentenaar smartly. Exactly two minutes later, the Uruguayan player showed his strength by sending an unstoppable shot in the upper corner. Within seconds, the world looked very different for both Ajax and VVV.
Fifteen minutes before Suarez definitely put the visiting team ahead, Miralem Sulejmani had replaced Cvitanich. Later, Dennis Rommendahl came in for Kennedy. Gentenaar also had left the field , albeit on a stretcher due to unfortunate injury.
VVV seemed drummed after Suarez’s three goals. Their hope for a tie was put to rest by a very efficient Ajax. Suarez’s final strike, near the end, was the clear knock out. The Ajax captain finished off a speedily executed counter attack. Rommendahl set him up for an unmissable chance, 0-4.
Jol: “VVV is a goed team, with a good approach. The opponent was undefeated until today. If we managed to win in this warm weather, after a European match on Thursday, then we’ve done well”.
Suarez served both his team and himself well on Sunday. He delivered his third hattrick of the season today, in his hundredeth eredivisie match (29 for FC Groningen and 71 for Ajax). After earlier hattricks against RKC Waalwijk and Slovan Bratislava, he repeated against VVV. Not only that, but he was able to score four times, just as he did in the ArenA against the Slovakian team.
“Luis didn’t even play his best match today” said Jol in the press conference in the crowded VVV press room. “He is dynamic and explosive enough to continuously be a threat” Suarez showed that even when he’s not on his best day, he still knows how to strike at the right time.