The value of Ajax’s 0-2 win against PSV remains to be seen on May 8, the final day of competition play. But the fact remains that after goals by Arek Milik and Anwar El Ghazi, Ajax has done an amazing job. With just six rounds to go, Ajax now holds first place in the Eredivisie!
Joyful celebrations took place after the match on the field of the Philips Stadium. While the disappointed PSV players sought out the catacombs, the Ajacieds partied with the fans from the full visitors’ stands. The PSV- Ajax competition match had the intensity and drawing power of a championship game. After 28 rounds of play, the Amsterdam team are now two points ahead of their fellow contender in the race for the title. Only six games stand between record-holding champion Ajax and their 34th national title in club history.
Ajax started the match one point down on PSV. This slight point difference underlines the relative strength of each team. Considering the deficit, it was Ajax who took the initiative. As Frank de Boer had outlined on Friday, it wasn’t necessarily that Ajax needed to win. “But it’s mostly that we need to not lose”, analysed De Boer. The fact that the winner in the Philips Stadium would take the lead in the race for the 2015-2016 championship was something both teams realised. “Ajax is going for the win, 100 per cent”, had said the Ajax coach.
Milik put some muscle behind that statement after only 72 seconds. The Pole received a high assist from Joël Veltman and scored with a header within two minutes: 0-1! In Eindhoven, Milik scored his fifth straight goal in as many matches. The centre forward thus followed in the Luis Suarez’s footsteps, the last illustrious Ajacied to accomplish this (2009). Suddenly, the Eindhoven team were the ones who needed to work hard to win.
Pressure on Cillessen
Ajax experienced some difficulty in following up on its dream start. It was mostly Jasper Cillessen who handled the ball. After fifteen minutes, the Ajax goalie had stopped an attempt by Luuk de Jong. Ten minutes later, Davy Pröpper saw his attempt land into Cillessen’s hands. PSV wing forward Jürgen Locadia saw his shot go wide.
Shortly before the break, another Ajax threat occurred. First it was Amin Younes who placed Milik in front of Jeroen Zoet with a great cross-pass. The Eindhoven keeper kept PSV from an early knock-out. In the first half’s extra time, it was Milik – once again – who sent a free kick opportunity high over the goal. PSV – Ajax remained exciting.
It was especially the Eindhoven team who seemed to suffer the most from the stress of having to perform after the break. Suddenly, the hunt for a goal was less convincing that before. Their playing was less precise; fewer passed from PSV players reached their destination. Perhaps fatigue from the midweek Champions League match against Atlético Madrid was taking its toll on the Brabant team.
Nemanja Gudelj curved his attempt frightfully close to Zoet’s goal ten minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, Locadia and De Jong bot missed their chance to bring their club even. Cillessen suddenly had less work to do that in the first half. The Ajacieds saw, to their relief, that Luciano Narsingh’s goal was rightfully disqualified as offside.
Anwar El Ghazi had the key to Ajax’s victory in his hands. Two minutes after he had relieved Schöne, the forward shot clearly into the lower left corner: 0-2. This was the final nail in the reigning national champions’ coffin.
Ajax is thus the new leader, and the it is now the Eindhoven team’s turn to play catch-up.
Score summary: 2. Milik 0-1, 76. El Ghazi 0-2
Ajax: Cillessen, Veltman, Van der Hoorn, Viergever, Dijks, Bazoer, Klaassen, Gudelj, Schöne (73. Fischer), Milik (80. Van Rhijn), Younes (73. El Ghazi).