Ajax’s painful afternoon in Groningen



Ajax has lost its first away game of 2020 by 2-1.  At FC Groningen, Donny van de Beek scored a goal, but the Amsterdam team didn’t make it any further than that.

Ajax faced some big setbacks in this first away game of 2020.  Andre Onana had stayed in Amsterdam due to shoulder pain, and Bruno Varela did the honors between the posts, as he had against Spakenburg last Wednesday.

With the absence of Daley Blind, Hakim Ziyech and David Neres, a pillar was missing in every line.  It turned out to be too much to deal with in Groningen, and Ajax – who perked up far too late in the game against a good Groningen – lost.

Starting spot for De Jong
After his midweek hat trick, Siem de Jong could count on a starting post, as could Ryan Gravenberch.  This was at the expense of Carel Eiting, who had to content himself with a spot on the bench and a substitution in the last half hour.  At that point, Ajax was 2-0 behind.

Sierhuis puts Ajax in a deficit
Because although Ajax took the initiative from the start of the game in the north of the country, Erik ten Hag’s team had egg on its face in the 16th minute.  A play-in shot by former Ajax player Django Warmerdam was easy prey for Varela.  But he ended up being trumped by Kaj Sierhuis, loaned out by Ajax, who saw his shot bounce over the goal line with a dash of good fortune; 1-0.  Several minutes later, Varela won a duel with Sierhuis, preventing an even bigger deficit – for the time being.

Opportunity Babel
In the first half, Ajax had an unmissable opportunity to tie the game.  In the 37th minute, however, Babel stormed over Sergino Dest’s pass to him.

More bad luck for Ajax
It was more of the same in the second half.  Ajax had ball possession, but it was the home team who scored once again.  A shot by Ramon Lundqvist changed direction via Lisandro Martinez’  foot: 2-0.  It wasn’t Ajax’s day in Groningen…

Goal by Van de Beek
Until the 72nd minute, that is.  Martinez was awarded the ball by Manschot, sent it in well, and Van de Beek took a hard shot: 2-1.  Ajax seemed to be on the right track, and hunted for the tying goal in the final minutes with Klaas Jan Huntelaar in for Martinez.  But it didn’t come.

Ajax lost the game and saw its lead against AZ decrease to 3 points.  Next week, PSV visits the sold-out Johan Cruijff ArenA.