It wasn’t the afternoon that the Ajacieds were hoping for, as Feyenoord won the top match against PSV. But Ajax had no influence on that outcome. Peter Bosz’s team, however, did fulfill its own mission by defeating Heracles Almelo, 4-1. Kasper Dolberg, Matthijs de Ligt, Davinson Sánchez and Bertrand Traoré scored the goals for the Amsterdam team. David Neres made his debut as an Ajacied and played the last eighteen minutes of the game.
Because of Ajax’s and Feyenoord’s wins, the race for the title will most likely take place between these two teams. PSV’s deficit against the leader grew to eleven points, practically putting them out of contention to extend their title. Ajax needs to make up five points against Feyenoord, a more realistic challenge. The upcoming duel between the two teams, which takes place on April 7 in Amsterdam, could be decisive as to who wins the championship.
Peter Bosz sent in the same eleven players as he did for Thursday’s match against Legia Warsaw (1-0). That meant that they played without the injured Daley Sinkgraven, and with Neres on the bench. The Brazilian acquisition was in the match selection for the first time in the game against Legia, but didn’t play.
Strong phase for Ajax
The first opportunity of the match was for Dolberg, but the Dane, free in front of goalie Bram Castro, found the Heracles goalie in his path. This led in a strong phase for Ajax, during which three good opportunities followed within five minutes. A shot by Klaassen went just wide, and then Traoré first stumbled on Castro, after which he didn’t manage to score from an opportune position.
Ajax took the lead midway through the first half. All credit goes to goal-scorer Kasper Dolberg. Not only because of the finish, as that was from nearby and was not especially difficult. No, it was mostly Dolberg’s quick anticipation that was impressive. He passed a taylor-made high ball to Klaassen, but fell to the ground in the process. Dolberg got up swiftly and was on the his captain’s rebound like a shot, converting promptly into a goal: 1-0.
Ajax wasn’t able to enjoy its lead for long, because one minute later, the score was tied. Armenteros sent a header, via the inside of the post, into the goal: 1-1. It was the second time that the Heracles striker scored, but this time, the goal was valid. Ajax posed a handful of threats in the second part of the first half, especially in the second line, but Castro was always in position.
Strong entry by De Ligt
After the break, De Ligt came in for the injured Nick Viergever, and the young player made immediate contributions with a fantastic long-distance shot, but Castro was the foil once again. The goalie also stopped an even better opportunity by Ziyech later on, but was forced to relinquish twice after that.
First, it was De Ligt who scored on a corner, his first Eredivisie goal. Then, Sánchez increased the lead to two goals. The Colombian was able to march ahead unhindered, and decided to take a shot from about twenty meters out. Castro could only turn around to see the clean low shot go past him.
The win seemed to be sealed after a good hour of play, but that didn’t take Jaroslav Navratil into account. The Czech Heraclid had two good opportunities, but first Sánchez, and then Andre Onana’s feline reflex, prevented the goals.
The match carried on, and two more moments arose which did wonders for the crowd’s mood. Neres made his debut in an Ajax jersey, and Traoré scored the final goal in extra time: 4-1.