Ajax has won its away game against PEC Zwolle, 0-2. In the first half, only Amin Younes made good on one of many opportunities. After halftime the match remained exciting, but substitute Thulani Serero decided the match four minutes before time.
Three days after their successful European game against Celtic, Ajax met PEC Zwolle in the Ijsseldelta Stadium. This opponent has given Ajax many headache s in the past few years. The matches for the KNVB Cup and Johan Cruijff Shield ended in defeat, and the last three matches have been tied. And Ajax, locked in a battle for the championship with, among others, a Feyenoord that had been victorious earlier in the day, simply could not afford that this time.
Starting spot for Donny van de Beek
Coach Frank de Boer made two changes after last Thursday’s game. A starting spot was granted to Donny van de Beek, who made his debut in Glasgow on Thursday. This was at Lasse Schöne’s expense. At the back, Veltman – who had been sick on Thursday – took over his spot from Mike van der Hoorn once again. With this, De Boer was choosing more creativity.
By applying quick pressure towards the front, Ajax created a deluge of scoring opportunities in the first half. In the sixth minute, Fischer, after a beautiful attack via Klaassen, Van de Beek and Younes, curved the ball just wide. The German youth international should have brought his team the first goal five minutes later. Free in front of keeper Kevin Begois, he shot wide. With a few big opportunities for Younes and Fischer, it was a countdown until the first goal was scored. Meanwhile, Cillessen was forced to take action a few times, which he did with verve.
Younes breaks stalemate
In the 37th minute, Ajax finally put its relative strength on the pitch into a concrete result on the scoreboard. Younes scored on Mitchell Dijks’ pass: 0-1. Less than two minutes later, Fischer could have handed out a decisive blow to PEC Zwolle, but yet again, he missed the goal. Begois made the save with his foot.
Ajax deserved a broad lead, as Fischer and Younes came into a good position time and again. But the sixteen shots on goal didn’t produce any goals, except that one goal in the first half. Arek Milik’s two free kicks before halftime didn’t make it into the goal, either.
After halftime, PEC Zwolle shifted gears. Jans had brought in Nijland and the agile midfielder created more danger immediately. In the 50th minute, he took a beautiful free kick, but Cillessen boxed it over his goal even more beautifully. Ajax didn’t have many answers in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. Only Milik had a great opportunity on a pass from Klaassen , but the Pole slid in just too short to be successful.
In the 68th minute, De Boer brought in fresh blood with Vaclav Cerny. The eighteen year-old match winner of the Celtic game substituted for Younes. Something needed to happen, as there was precious little left of Ajax’s dominance from the first half. Zwolle saw its opportunity and also starting finding the free man more frequently. But Ajax continued to create possibilities as well. Fischer shot into Begois’ hands in the 78th minute, and two minutes later, he shot wide. A great heel-ball from Cerny to Klaassen had preceded that.
After Serero had come in for Milik, De Boer brought in Schöne for Fischer with six minutes left.
Ajax’s job was to survive in the final minutes, but the substitutes put all fears to rest. In the 86th minute, Cerny acted as the lightning quick distraction on Schöne’s pass to Serero, and the South African scored the 0-2 goal. The Czech substitute seemed poised to score the 0-3 goal one minute later, but surprisingly enough, the ball bounced past the wrong side of the goal.
Thus Ajax remains the only Eredivisie club who is undefeated in away matches, and finally put an end to its four-match winless skid against PEC Zwolle. Moreover, the club remains in first place with a three-point lead on Feyenoord.
Ajax: Cillessen, Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks, Van de Beek, Klaassen, Gudelj, Fischer (84. Schöne), Milik (81. Serero), Younes (68. Cerny).