Ajax was masterful in its home game against ADO Den Haag. Goals by Hakim Ziyech, Lasse Schöne and Kasper Dolberg put a 3-0 win on the Ziggo scoreboards in the ArenA. The Ajacieds remained hot on the trail of leader Feyenoord.
In the Eredivisie, Ajax – ADO can be called a classic. The traditional football match between the two cities has been played since the 1957-1958 season. The 43rd edition was history in the making, as it contained both promising future for the club, as well as wistful goodbyes.
The wistfulness was primarily present in the form of tributes to two former Ajacieds. Ajax played with mourning bands on Sunday as a tribute to the recently deceased Wim Anderiesen junior, who was a player in the first team between 1951 and 1961. One week earlier, Ger van Mourik, of the same generation as Anderiesen junior, had also passed away. Former captain Van Mourik’s stadium seat – tribute had been paid to the player at the away game against FC Utrecht – was adorned with flowers and a portrait of the proud Ajacied. Pure-blooded club men such and Anderiesen junior and Van Mourik will not be forgotten.
On Sunday, Justin Kluivert embodied Ajax’s future. Two weeks after his official debut (PEC – Ajax), and with two away games to his credit, Kluivert junior wrote history with his home debut and starting spot on the squad. The right winger took over the spot of Anwar El Ghazi, who seems to be headed for OSC Lille on the short term. Because Bertrand Traoré will still be playing in the Africa Cup’s semi-finals at least, right wingers are scarce in Bosz’s selection. Justin Kluivert proved to be a worthy alternative.
“Little Kluivert” showcased his type of brawn, bluff and class in the Amsterdam ArenA, just as he had in Zwolle and Utrecht previously. Those qualities belong to a true Ajacied, especially wing forwards. Many creative and mercurial Ajacieds have gone before the teenager into club history.
Kluivert, who is theoretically still just a first-year Under 19 player, set the tone at home right at kick-off. After a nice passing move, the right winger sent the ball to striker Kasper Dolberg in the third minute. The Dane unfortunately slid the ball against ADO keeper Ernestas Setkus. The Ajax fans started chanting ‘Kluivert, Kluivert, we will be champion’. In that, a nice historic parallel can be drawn. The youngest Kluivert often switched sides with Amin Younes, who had started on the left.
Ajax struck gold in the eleventh minute. Davinson Sanchez played the ball in to Dolberg who made a subtle pass to Ziyech. The midfielder was free in front of Setkus and shot the ball into the near corner: 1-0. It was Ziyech’s sixth goal in sixteen matches with Ajax.
The football classic appeared to be decided two minutes later. Dolberg came close to scoring, but hit the post. One minute later, a cannon by Amin Younes went over the crossbar via an opposing player. The German winger also saw his next attempt, this time on a pass from Daley Sinkgraven, go just a fraction too wide.
Lasse Schöne converted Ajax’s dominance of ADO into concrete numbers after half an hour. One week after his deciding goal in Utrecht (0-1 win), the midfielder once again hit the mark in a simply beautiful way. This time, Schöne curved the ball into the upper corner from a free kick. The Dane thus scored for the fourth time this season to bring a game back to life in the Eredivisie. With Schöne’s achievement, Ajax finally doubled its lead: 2-0. ADO had nothing to contribute in the ArenA.
After the break, the big picture of the game didn’t change. Early in the second half,, Dolberg treated the fans to a perfectly executed overhead kick. Despite the great execution, the crossbar stood in the way of what would have been an amazing goal. Dolberg came close, but didn’t join the ranks of Marco van Basten and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. These illustrious Ajax centre forwards once scored from an overhead kick.
ADO forward Ruben Schaken came close to scoring after 67 minutes. The veteran came up just too short to convert a pass from former Ajacied Sheraldo Becker into a goal. It was a rare threatening moment in front of André Onana’s goal.
In the final minutes, Dolberg gave the game some extra gloss. After Davy Klaassen had cleverly sent a header through, the Dane scored at close range: 3-0. The centre forward thus scored his first goal since November 20, 2016, at home against NEC.
Ajax’s home game against ADO thus resulted in a problem-free and cheerful win. The Eredivisie’s number two team can relax and wait and see how Feyenoord does against NEC later in the afternoon. Perhaps Ajax, against the Den Haag team, took another step towards a historic national title.