The inconsistency that has haunted Ajax this season was almost the team’s undoing on Wednesday evening against AZ. After the Alkmaar team scored the tying goal (1-1), Davison Sánchez, Lasse Schöne and Amin Younes secured the win for the Amsterdam team: 4-1. It was Ajax’s 800th win at home in the Eredivisie.
Three days after the convincing Classic win, Ajax wanted nothing more than to follow up this win against their arch-enemy with a similar victory. Anything in order to remain in the winning mood and to keep the championship chances alive.
North-Holland derby offers another opportunity
The North Holland derby against AZ offered Ajax another opportunity to give its own fans another sizzling performance. It was all about defeating AZ and hoping for the Go Ahead Eagles to pull off an upset in De Kuip. That was the dream scenario beforehand. Unfortunately, this scenario turned out to be wishful thinking when it came to the game in Rotterdam. Feyenoord destroyed the Eagles by 8-0. But the Amsterdam team did their duty with a win that was anything but dull.
Ajax’s positions had been somewhat amended compared to the starting line-up from the Classic. Joël Veltman’s suspension cleared the way for right back Kenny Tete. With Amin Younes’ return (recovered from injury), David Neres relinquished his starting spot.
The German started, as usual, on the left side. A few days after his stunning performance as left winger, Justin Kluivert took over the right wing position. Kasper Dolberg, injured, watched the game in the ArenA. Bertrand Traoré took over as centre forwad.
Traoré sends a controlled shot past Krul
The African Ajacied showed his best side in the sixteenth minute. Traoré got the attack going, at the end of which he himself scored. On a pass from ‘in-between’ man Kluivert, Traoré sent a controlled shot past Tim Krul (1-0), the keeper who had been an Ajacied for the first half of this season.
AZ hopeless before the break
AZ’s presence barely registered in the first half. Unlike former Ajacied Krul, Andre Onana may as well have taken the first half off. AZ’s goalie, however, was constantly besieged by Ajacieds turning up in front of him. Just before halftime, the loaned out player from Newcastle United rescued an attempt by Justin Kluivert out of the goal opening.
Shortly after the break, Ajax seemed to pull the game’s momentum towards itself. Traoré’s header disappeared wide of the goal. At that point, the Amsterdam team was already playing without Davy Klaassen. The captain was injured with a bruise to his leg just before halftime. Donny van de Beek came in for him.
Weghorst pulls AZ even with Ajax
The Ajacieds seemed to disappear for a while after this. AZ fought their way to a tie with the home team ten minutes into the second half. Wout Weghorst sent a deep header past Onana, who had come out very far: 1-1. Earlier this season, the centre forward had scored twice in Alkmaar against the Amsterdam team. AZ- Ajax ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Ajacieds should have considered themselves warned. The tentativeness that has plagued Peter Bosz’s selection all season nearly reared its ugly head against AZ.
But Davinson Sánchez served his team very well with a stunning 2-1 goal. The Colombian player scored with a fantastic overhead kick twenty minutes before time: 2-1. This feat brought great relief and cheer to the Ajacieds on the field and in the stands.
Ajax secures win easily
Ajax restored the balance of power from the first half and ended up securing the win easily. Schöne made good on the penalty received by Ajax after a foul by Rens van Eijden on Traoré. Younes scored in the 88th minute, definitively ensuring a win for the Ajacieds in the sold-out Amsterdam ArenA.
“We wanted to win this game in the same style as we did last Sunday against Feyenoord”, said Bosz about the game. The Ajacied saw his team succeed in this only partially. “We started well. But, after 1-0, you hope for a quick 2-0 and 3-0 goal. We started playing poorly towards the end of the first half. AZ started to play better. We weren’t doing well until the 2-1 goal. And we struggled. After that, things improved for us. I’m pleased that this ended well. I’m a satisfied coach.”