Ajax resumes with narrow win against Sparta



Ajax has resumed its race for the championship with a close win at home against Sparta Rotterdam.  Goals by Donny van de Beek and Ryan Gravenberch proved to be enough to secure a narrow 2-1 win.

The first game of the new decade was all about doing good.  Prior to the game, donations could be made for a playground in the Emma Children’s Hospital.  Thanks to one-time donations of season tickets by (youth) members, many kids who don’t often get the chance to go to games were able to attend on Sunday afternoon.

Ajax got what they came for: three points.  And they took full advantage of competitor AZ’s loss of points to Willem II and PSV’s tie at VVV.

Van de Beek opens score in new decade
After fifteen minutes of play, Van de Beek brought Ajax into a 1-0 lead.  In the minutes after that, the home team had several opportunities to score a second goal, via Quincy Promes, Hakim Ziyech en Nico Tagliafico, among others, but they didn’t manage to convert.  Sparta wasn’t passive either, and Andre Onana had to do some serious work a few times.

In the second half, Ryan Babel seemed to bring Ajax to a 2-0 lead thanks to his header, but with a reflex that you might expect from a handball keeper, Harush saved Sparta from going down by another goal.

In the 56th minute, coach Erik ten Hag was forced to make a substitution.  Ziyech went down and gave the substitution signal.  His replacement, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, had yet to warm up.  After two minutes he was on the field, just as Ajax was taking a free kick from a nice position.  Promes shot into the wall.

But the goal did come in the 60th minute.  After some scuffling in the Rotterdam box, Ryan Gravenberch gave the last push for the 2-0 goal.  But the deal was far from sealed, as Sparta was resililent.  After Abdou Harroui had hit the post in the 73rd minute, substitute Joe; Piroe scored a goal.

Sparta goes for a point
Sparta went full throttle with a closing attack, and stormed Ajax’s goal with long balls.  In the final minute, the outstanding Sparta keeper came out to the front on a free kick.Via substitute Duarte, Sparta fired a dangerous shot but Andre Onana made a fantastic save, keeping 3 points in Amsterdam.

A tough win to start 2020, but the gap against the competition has increased to 6 points.