Erik ten Hag had to do without a number of his usual starters in the 28th league game of the season. Both Lisandro Martínez and Antony were not available for the clash with FC Groningen. The Argentine has not recovered from an injury in time for the match while the Brazilian was suspended following a red card in the Klassieker. The pair were replaced by Perr Schuurs and Mohammed Kudus.
Edson Álvarez was also missing from the starting eleven, beginning the match on the bench. On Wednesday evening, the Mexican managed to qualify with his homeland for the World Cup in Qatar. He only returned from his international break on Friday, forcing him to take a place on the bench against Groningen. Klaassen replaced the 24-year-old midfielder.
Ajax fall behind
Ajax was close to a goal in the thirteenth minute via Steven Berghuis. The Dutch international hit the far post after a stray cross. Shortly afterwards, FC Groningen took a 1-0 lead thanks to Strand Larsen’s goal. The Norwegian striker shot the ball from the edge of the box past Andre Onana.
Amsterdammers turn it around before half
After falling behind, Ajax set on the front foot in search of a goal. They struggled to find openings in the defensive stronghold set by Groningen and created few opportunities before half-time.
Nevertheless, Ajax only needed two good chances to turn a deficit into a lead. Davy Klaassen scored the equalizer in the closing minutes of the first half. With the last kick of the first half, Tadic scored from the spot after a handball in the box.
Ajax hold their ground in the second half
An open start to the second half resulted in chances for both teams. Twenty minutes in, FC Groningen created the first big chance via a header from Strand Larsen, but a fine reflex save from Onana prevented the Norwegian from equalizing.
Ajax then created a number of smaller chances themselves. In the 71st minute, Ten Hag decided to bring new impetus to the team with Brian Brobbey and Nico Tagliafico. Not much later Klaassen left the field due to injuries, the goalscorer was replaced by Kenneth Taylor.
Berghuis seals it
The final stages of the game remained exciting as the home side ramped up the pressure. Ajax coped with it well, though, and held firm. After a well-played counter, the league leaders managed to score the 1-3 in the injury time of the second half via Berghuis, sealing the result.
FC Groningen-Ajax 1-3 (1-2)
20. Strand Larsen 1-0
45+1. Klaassen 1-1
45+6. Tadic 1-2
90+2. Berghuis 1-3
Ajax: Onana; Mazraoui, Schuurs, Timber, Blind (Tagliafico); Gravenberch, Klaassen (75. Taylor), Kudus (61. Álvarez); Berghuis, Haller (71. Brobbey), Tadic