Ajax hasn´t lost at home to Roda JC since the turn of the century, and that undefeated streak remained intact on Saturday. But nobody at Ajax was happy about it. The late tying goal by Tom van Hyfte, one minute before the end, plunged the Amsterdam ArenA into a black mood: 2-2.
The great performance of Kasper Dolberg, who was outstanding and scored two goals, and the debut of Bertrand Traoré and Davinson Sanchez thus were relegated to the background. In its first Eredivisie home game, Ajax lost two costly points, a scenario that few people had counted on prior to the game.
Peter Bosz had expected that the match against Roda JC would be similar to the one played six days earlier against Sparta: 1-3. The coach was right. Not only was the match profile similar to the one at Het Kasteel – Ajax attacked and the opponent defended – but the score, at the start, also was.
Once again, Ajax was unable to enjoy its lead for long. After seventeen minutes, Adil Auassar erased the lead earned by Kasper Dolberg´s goal: 1-1. The Dane´s goal was one to remember, as was the preparation work. Jairo Riedewald found captain Davy Klaassen, who, with a beautiful lob, sent the ball perfectly onto Dolberg´s head: 1-0.
Together with Sanchez, Dolberg was the most surprising name on the squad. Sanchez replaced the suspended Joël Veltman and made his debut for Ajax. After winning the Copa Libertadores, Sanchez only arrived in Amsterdam about two weeks ago. His countryman Mateo Cassierra was relegated to the bench, as was brand new Ajacied Traoré
Bosz´s decision to play Dolberg ended up being totally justified, as the centre forward scored again before halftime. It was another amazing goal. Dolberg was in good position and, with the outside right, outwitted keeper Benjamin van Leer for the second time: 2-1. The goal came at the right time for Ajax, as the home team had been struggling for opportunities. Daley Sinkgraven was the only other player who had the chance to score. The star from the Sparta away game stumbled on Van Leer.
This turned out to be Sinkgraven´s last opportunity, as he was substituted at halftime by Amin Younes, who had recovered from his groin injury. The German´s return was greeted with applause from the audience. Loaned-out Chelsea player Traoré was treated to the same, when he was sent off the bench to warm up later in the game.
Wake-up call for Ajax
The lead was still slim, and the match was anything but decided. A threatening Roda moment seemed to be a wake-up call for Ajax, and they had a handful of good opportunities between the 57th and 62nd minute. Shots by Younes (2) and Nemanja Gudelj, and a header by Mitchell Dijks, didn´t deliver a third goal.
After 63 minutes, it was time for Traoré to make his debut. The centre forward, days after signing his loan-out contract, replaced Dolberg. Less than ten minutes later, the striker came close to scoring his first goal in Amsterdam, but it went into the side net.
Ten minutes before the end, Traoré had a better opportunity. After a foul on Riechedly Bazoer, awarded by referee Bas Nijhuis, the ball landed at Traoré´s feet. His shot went over the Roda goal. It turned out to be a costly mistake, as Roda drew even a few minutes later via Van Hyfte: 2-2. Ajax turned up the heat during extra time, but the Amsterdam offense didn´t score another goal.