It would be an exaggeration to say that Ajax’s win was a breeze, since Ajax did have to fight for it, but the fact is that host ADO Den Haag was defeated with relative ease. Thanks to goals by Davy Klaassen and Bertrand Traoré, Ajax won 0-2 in the Kyocera Stadium. Ajax thus remained hot on the heels of leader Feyenoord, and didn´t waste unnecessary energy prior to the tough week ahead.
Ajax had won its last eight official matches, so Peter Bosz had very little incentive to make changes. The coach thus decided to remain with the same eleven players as in the game against FC Utrecht (3-2). Kasper Dolberg and Traoré had suffered slight injuries midweek but were fit enough to appear at kick-off.
Traoré himself had the first big opportunity of the match in the sixteenth minute, after an eventless first quarter-hour. The forward was freed up on the right side of the penalty kick area, but stumbled on keeper Ernestas Setkus. In the rebound, Traoré was able to send the ball into the goal, but was offside.
By the book
This was the introduction to a lively ten minutes during which Ajax took the lead in a beautiful way. Lasse Schöne was freed up after a throw-in and went on to make a perfect chip pass to Klaassen. Ajax’s captain was able to control the ball and subsequently shoot into the far corner. It was a goal that was strictly by the book: 0-1.
Soon after, Ajax almost made it 0-2, but a long-distance shot by Dolberg hit the crossbar. ADO came close to scoring after that. Sheraldo Becker seemed poised to tie the game at 1-1, but Davinson Sánchez prevented him from doing this with a beautiful slide. Becker was the only former Ajacied in the Den Haag team’s starting line-up. Reserve goalie Robert Zwinkels and Aschraf El Mahdioui sat next to coach Zelijko Petrovic on the bench.
ADO didn’t have much on the fire in the beginning, but in the last fifteen minutes of the first half, the match became more evenly balanced. The margin at the midway mark was just one goal, and that was reason enough for ADO to come out of the locker room with renewed confidence. This led to one dangerous moment in front of the Ajax goal.
Traoré doubles lead
The home team started to apply more pressure out in front, and was thus forced to give away some space. Fortunately, Ajax knew how to take advantage of that. After missing his first opportunity, Traoré scored the 0-2 goal. He was freed up by Amin Younes, who made his first assist of the season. With his favourite left foot, Traoré scored the second goal for the Amsterdam team.
The 0-2 hit ADO like a sledgehamer, and they totally lost their way after that. Petrovic, hoping to turn the tide, made a double substitution and brought in El Mahdioui. The midfielder made his Eredivisie debut. But it didn’t have much impact. ADO was in no position to impose itself. As Ajax was nursing a lead and didn’t have to go all out anymore, the match limped slowly toward the end. Even the famous The Hague fifteen minutes couldn’t change that.
The solid lead was reason enough for Bosz to make three substitutions. Anwar El Ghazi, Mitchell Dijks and Nemanja Gudelj came in. The first player had an opportunity to crown his stint with a goal, but he was unable to convert on his good solo.
Ajax played a professional game to the end, and seemed to cautiously turn their thoughts to the difficult week ahead. On Thursday, the away game against Celta de Vigo is on the agenda, and, three days later, the Classic against Feyenoord takes place in Rotterdam.