Ajax got off to a messy start Sunday afternoon in Alkmaar, with the same eleven players as last time. The Ajax players dominated possession in the opening stages, but failed to convert their upper hand into opportunities. In the seventh minute, in the pouring rain, the home side got their first chance of the match, with AZ striker Odgaard forcing Remko Pasveer to secure a great save.
Opening goal from Kudus
Five minutes later, Ajax burst through the Alkmaar side's defences. Daley Blind set Kenneth Taylor up with a fantastic long cross. The talented midfielder passed to Kudus, who easily tapped it into the net from close range: 0-1. With this opening goal, the Ghanaian has now racked up his sixth goal in the last five games.
AZ turns things round
Both Ajax and AZ became very unsettled after that opening goal. Neither team kept possession for long and the game was often held up following a foul. In the fortieth minute, stoppage time turned out in AZ's favour, as the Alkmaar team drew level. Devyne Rensch misjudged a pass from Clasie, after which Mees de Wit trotted towards Remko Pasveer's goal. The AZ player shot the ball hard into the far corner: 1-1.
In the last minute of injury time, the Alkmaar side went into the lead thanks to Odgaard. A long ball from AZ sailed over the Ajax defence. Calvin Bassey meant it wasn't offside, after which the totally isolated AZ striker was able to push the ball behind Pasveer: 2-1. The half-time whistle sounded in Alkmaar immediately following that goal.
Schreuder made one change after half-time: Davy Klaassen came on for Taylor. With the seasonaed Ajax player now on the pitch, Ajax conceded a fine chance two minutes into the second half. AZ midfielder Reijnders shot the ball out of nowhere towards the crossbar, but Pasveer kept Ajax in the game with a great save. Shortly after, Ajax also set up a great opportunity from a counter-attack. Goal scorer Kudus passed to Dusan Tadic in the AZ penalty area, but the Ajax captain saw his shot blocked.
Ajax were having a hard time of it in the second half, so Schreuder decided to up the ante. The Ajax side played the match with three defenders in the last quarter, Devyne Rensch leaving the pitch for Brian Brobbey. Just five minutes later, Ajax had a great chance to equalise. Kudus shot the ball past AZ keeper Verhulst from a pass from Steven Bergwijn, but Dani de Wit saved it on the line.
Ajax final push
An offensive from Ajax delivered another great opportunity ten minutes before full time. Bergwijn shot hard at the Alkmaar goal from close range, but the attempt was once again deflected off the line. In the closing stage, it fell to Lorenzo Lucca and Lucas Ocampos to provide new impetus. Despite eight minutes of injury time and a number of fine opportunities, Ajax failed to deliver any more goals in the AFAS Stadium, and so the Ajax team go into their international fixture smarting from a 2-1 defeat.
AZ – Ajax 2-1 (2-1)
12. Kudus 0-1
40. De Wit 1-1
45+6. Odgaard 2-1
Opstelling Ajax: Pasveer; Rensch (64. Brobbey), Timber, Bassey, Blind; Álvarez, Taylor (46. Klaassen), Berghuis; Tadic, Kudus (81. Lucca), Bergwijn (81. Ocampos)