Ajax reaches KNVB Cup semis with conviction



Ajax has qualified for the KNVB Cup semifinals.  Erik ten Hag’s team defeated Vitesse by 0-3 in Arnhem.  Daley Blind and Hakim Ziyech returned after being injured.

Ajax started the game with Edson Álvarez in the line-up.  The Mexican player replaced the injured Joel Veltman.  Perr Schuurs wasn’t fit enough to start in the defensive heart.  Lassina Traoré got the nod on offense.

Traoré and Babel combination in opening goal

The latter was worth his weight in gold, playing an important part in the 0-1 goal for Ajax.  After a quick transition, Donny van de Beek found the striker, who served Ryan Babel with the perfect pass.  It was the veteran’s first goal since his return to the red and white jersey.

The opening goal was the highlight of the first half.  In the first minute of the game, Traoré came close to scoring but his attempt was blocked.  On the opposite side, Nicolas Tagliafico had to intervene when Vitesse forward Tim Matavz was threatening.  The home team didn’t succeed in any other attempts to create danger, and the teams retreated to the lockers rooms at halftime with a 0-1 score on the board.

Gravenberch at the right place
Nothing noteworthy happened for a long time in the second half.  Both teams held each other at bay and created little danger, until fifteen minutes before the end.  That’s when Ajax stormed up the left side with a combination.  It was Tagliafico who found Ryan Gravenberch with a clean pass.  The midfielder made good: 0-2.

The second goal of the evening led to several highlights in Arnhem.  Ajax went on to post a big win.

Blind and Ziyech return
After the 0-2 goal, it was time for Blind to come in.  The defender had been on the field for the last time during the home game in the UEFA Champions League against Valencia.  Blind replaced the goal-scoring Gravenberch.  Ziyech also made his return in Arnhem, coming in for Traoré.

Both Ajacieds saw the team reach 0-3.  Referee Bas Nijhuis awarded the Amsterdam team with a penalty kick after hands in the Arnhem box, in consultation with the video referee.  Matavz then received his second yellow card after protesting, and his team had to continue with just 10 men.  From the penalty kick spot, Dusan Tadic scored Ajax’s third goal.

With a big win in the GelreDome and the return of Blind and Ziyech, Ten Hag’s team had a very positive night.  In the KNVB Cup semi-finals, the record-holding champion will play in another away game, against the winner of Go Ahead Eagles – FC Utrecht.