With frontrunner Ajax facing number two PSV it was a top match under high pressure. Ajax cherished a one-point lead over the number two from Eindhoven before the match. Ruud van Nistelrooij's men had also played one more game than the defending champion so far.
After a starting phase with no real chances, Luuk de Jong ignited the game midway through the first half. The PSV striker was served perfectly by Cody Gakpo and got to the ball before his marking man Calvin Bassey. De Jong slid the ball past Remko Pasveer from close range: 0-1. Ajax responded immediately through Steven Berghuis, but the on-form Ajax player unfortunately could not score. Before half-time, only Kudus came close to an equaliser. The midfielder saw his missile shot rebound from the post.
No easy task
This left Ajax to try to come back from behind in the second half. This difficult mission was definitely no easy task. Shortly after the start of the second half, the Ajax players just couldn't get the ball out of their own half. Erick Gutiérrez was allowed to strike and shot flawlessly. Ajax reacted again with another big chance. This time Edson Álvarez was able to take a shot from distance. The Mexican Ajax player saw his good effort turned away by goalkeeper Walter Bénitez.
As time passed, the job of getting closer to PSV became increasingly difficult. It even seemed to become a mission impossible when referee Danny Makkelie appeared to award a penalty to the visitors. The potential penalty kick, following a duel between Rensch and Xavi Simons, was finally cancelled after VAR intervention. Although the deficit did not increase; neither did Ajax get any closer to PSV. Former Ajax player Anwar El Ghazi made the Johan Cruijff ArenA tremble as he aimed his free-kick at the crossbar.
A bridge too far
PSV poorly utilised the chances (and space) they were given. Ajax battering ram Lorenzo Lucca had only been on the pitch for two minutes when he helped the home side to the tying goal. The Italian bowled Berghuis' high cross past Bénitez from close range: 1-2.
With around 10 minutes left to play, Ajax stepped up the pressure further. Anything to at least keep the lead in Amsterdam hands. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Getting an equaliser proved a bridge too far.
Ajax – PSV 1-2 (0-1)
23. De Jong 0-1
50. Gutiérrez 0-2
83. Lucca 1-2
Ajax: Pasveer; Sánchez, Timber, Bassey, Rensch (66. Taylor); Álvarez, Kudus (81. Klaassen), Berghuis; Bergwijn, Brobbey, Tadic (81. Lucca)