After several disappointing performances, a win would be the best medicine for Ajax. The Ajacieds won while visiting recently promoted Go Ahead Eagles, 0-3, and filled up on confidence. Captain Davy Klaassen showed his team the way by scoring the first two Amsterdam goals in the first half. Nemanja Gudelj increased the margin to three goals on a free kick.
Due to this victory, Ajax took full advantage of PSV’s loss of points against FC Groningen on Sunday. The point difference with the national champion is down to three. Leader Feyenoord is five points ahead of Ajax.
Ajax was looking for redemption on Sunday. The Ajacieds hadn’t been able to win at home against either Roda JC (2-2) or Willem II (1-2), and, moreover, had been eliminated from participation in the Champions League group phase. On Wednesday, Ajax suffered a painful 4-1 loss at Rostov,
Coach Peter Bosz didn’t beat around the bush, and took measures. Only Klaassen, Gudelj and Amin Younes were assigned to their customary places. Others were either assigned a new position or benched. In any case, Kasper Dolberg, Davinson Sánchez and André Onana received starting spots. This last player had the honours, just as he had against Willem II, of keeping. Den Haag native Tim Krul, who has come in to replace Barcelona-bound Jasper Cillessen, is not yet fit enough to play.
In the first half, Onana had a key role. The Cameroon native stopped a penalty kick by Leon de Kogel midway through the first half. The ball had been shown to the spot by referee Van Boekel after Sanchez had stood on the heels of Marcel Ritzmaier.
Klaassen on a roll
These were spectacular minutes, as Ajax had had a good opportunity just before, but failed to convert. The Ajacieds had the upper hand, but Bertrand Traoré didn’t manage to send the ball across to Dolberg. In the 23rd minutes, the Ajacieds hit the mark. Gudelj took possession of the ball halfway into the Go Ahead half, and passed across to fellow midfielder Davy Klaassen. Ajax’s captain shot made good from about eighteen meters out: 1-0.
The lead did a world of good to Ajax’s self-confidence, and the visitors immediately started to play much better. This led to a doubling of the score ten minutes before halftime. Traoré tripped over Kenny Teijsse’s knee and earned a penalty kick for Ajax. Unlike in De Kogel, Klaassen kept his cool. He shot the ball into the left upper corner.
Traoré, playing from the right side, hoped to make the score 0-3 a few moments later. After a great solo and long distance shot, goalie Zwarthoed saved the home team from an even bigger deficit. Three substitutions were made at halftime. At Ajax, Sanchéz remained in the locker room. The Colombian, who already had a yellow card, had been flirting with red, and was thus replaced by Heiko Westermann.
Spot-on free kick Gudelj
Go Ahead attempted to get back into the match after halftime, but Ajax wasn’t fazed. Bosz’s team almost scored again after just under an hour. Dolberg stumbled on keeper Zwarthoed and, in the shuffle afterwards, Traoré shot wide. But the third goal did come. Gudelj scored beautifully on a free kick. The Serbian midfielder was also poised to score a second goal. His shot, which had changed directions, ended up hitting the crossbar via a Go Ahead player.