The game in Nijmegen started evenly matched. After a good 10 minutes of play, the Ajax players stirred for the first time, creating danger through Conceição and Edson Álvarez. The latter in particular was close to scoring the opening goal: his header was cleverly turned away by NEC goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Not much later, the former Ajax player saved again, this time a volley from Klaassen.
The Amsterdam team posed significant danger from the wings and had an exquisite chance to open the scoring just after the half-hour mark. A cross from Conceição was laid out by Brobbey ready for Taylor, but the midfielder slid the ball several centimetres wide of the goal.
The next chance did hit the mark: a high ball from Conceição was sent very subtly wide by Dusan Tadic, allowing 'Mister 1-0' Klaassen to shoot Ajax into the lead.
Ajax faced a fiercer NEC after half-time. The first opportunity for the home side even resulted directly in a goal. A free kick from the left landed in Ajax's penalty area and was easily shot in by Landy Dimata: 1-1.
Conceição, who was on a roll, provided a measured cross to Taylor moments later, but the midfielder headed it over. This meant that the Amsterdam team's desired quick response did not come.
Debutants Fitz-Jim and Rasmussen
With Brobbey's departure from the pitch after seventy minutes of play, Ajax's sickbay at Nijmegen was enlarged, with Lorenzo Lucca coming on for him. Kian Fitz-Jim was the next substitute, replacing Taylor to make his official debut in Ajax first team.
Ten minutes before full time, Klaassen was very close to his second goal of the match. After a smooth-running attack, the Ajax player placed the ball just wide of the goal. Just after Rasmussen's debut, the lead was almost there after all, but Álvarez's header was stopped by Cillessen.
NEC – Ajax 1-1 (0-1)
38. Klaassen 0-1
52. Dimata 1-1
Ajax: Pasveer; Sánchez, Timber, Rensch, Bassey; Álvarez, Taylor (79, Fitz-Jim), Klaassen; Conceição (90. Rasmussen), Brobbey (71. Lucca), Tadic.