No doctor could have prescribed better medicine. Three days after the unfortunate cup disqualification against Feyenoord, Ajax delivered a stunning performance against Roda JC. After only five minutes, Ajax had taken a two goal lead. After a true football show by the Amsterdam team, the scoreboard recorded half a dozen goals: 6-0.
Dealing with disappointment is part of top sports. Against Roda JC, Ajax showed its mental strength. There was only one way to wash away the bitter aftertaste of the lost Classic match, and that was with a convincing win against Roda JC. Coach Frank de Boer and Ajax’s supporters were granted their wish.
“Nice to see that, so soon after the disappointment against Feyenoord, which was a tough match, we can show this”, De Boer said. “Of course there were a few changes, but this was a great reaction. We tried to keep the pressure on Roda from the first minute to the ninetieth. That’s great. That’s what you want to see in every match.”
Physically, the match in Rotterdam had taken its toll. Riechedly Bazoer and Mitchell Dijks were forced to sit out the Roda JC match. They were replaced by Thulani Serero and Jairo Riedewald. Forwards Arek Milik and Anwar El Ghazi returned to the squad, at the expense of Lasse Schöne and Mike van der Hoorn. De Boer refused to start four defenders against two Roda JC forwards and Ajax thus started in 3-4-3.
Roda JC was the tenth-ranked team in the Eredivise going into this match in the Amsterdam ArenA. Darije Kalezic’s team has experienced a flying start to the season, having returned to the Eredivisie, but have not managed to win six games in a row. The statistics didn’t offer much hope that the tide would turn in Amsterdam. Roda JC hasn’t won twelve matches in a row (home and away) against Ajax. Their last win in Amsterdam goes back to October 1999, before the turn of the century.
The hope that Roda could pull off an upset was put on ice after only five minutes of play, when the score reached 2-0. Ajax came out of the starting blocks like a bullet and grabbed their guests by the throat. It was football like De Boer wants to see: convincing, with flair, and high quality. In the third minute El Ghazi got a great opportunity after good preparation work by Viktor Fischer. The forward’s aim wasn’t sharp enough.
Piece of cake
It was just postponing the inevitable for Roda, because one minute later, Ajax made good. A header from Joël Veltman hit the inside of the post, after which the ball landed at the free Fischer’s feet. It was a piece of cake for the Dane to shoot the ball into the goal. Veltman’s part in the 1-0 goal surely did the defender some good. In de Kuip, he had had the misfortunate part in the only goal of the match. In the heat of a charged duel with Dirk Kuyt, Veltman unluckily sent the ball into his own goal.
Barely one minute later, Ajax increased its lead to two goals, in a very special way. Klaassen, on the edge of offside, sent Fischer away. His fine, measured pass was shot by Milik high into the goal from nearby.
Although it wasn’t a goal, the most beautiful moment was still to come. In the fourteenth minute, an impressive tribute to Johan Cruijff was paid. For one minute long, there was an ovation and applause for Ajax’s legendary number fourteen, who is suffering from lung cancer. Roda didn’t interrupt this beautiful homage. The Limburg team had a good opportunity in the fifteenth minute of play, but Jasper Cillessen (also back on the squad) was on his guard.
Roda a bit player
Ajax had a few more opportunities which they played out sloppily, thus it wasn’t until the 26th minute that the 3-0 goal came. The crowd once again was in for a treat of an attack. Fischer passed to Milik. Forced to the right side, it was impossible for the left-footed Pole to take the shot himself, and he decided to send the ball to Klaassen. Ajax’s captain took full advantage of the great prep work and scored beautifully.
Roda was just a bit player in the ArenA and didn’t put up much resistance. Even a great chance to score a 3-1 goal was ill-fated for the Limburg team. After Klaassen failed to clear the ball properly, Juric was unable to pull the trigger.
Roda made it to halftime without any more damage, but after the break, their deficit increased. Ajax once against started off very strong. Roda keeper Benjamin van Leer stopped shots by El Ghazi and Veltman. It was just a drop in the bucket for the goalie since the Amsterdam shots just kept coming. The inevitable 4-0 goal was scored in the 59th minute. Riedewald found Milik with a tight pass, and this time it was Fischer who was in position to score. It was the Dane’s second goal of the night.
Biggest home win
Ajax wanted to mark its biggest home win this season – they’ve defeated ADO 4-0 – and that was the reason enough to keep their foot on the gas pedal. With a free kick, Milik scored the 5-0 goal and just before time, Davy Klaassen scored the final goal.
John Heitinga came onto the field. The defender came on after about one hour to the great pleasure of the crowd. For Heitinga, it was his official start in the Eredivisie. Previously, he had played some minutes in the De Graafschap cup match. This was exactly the type of evening to make his start. Ajax was playing an amazing game, had showed respect for the past, and was building up confidence. In short, it was a great night.
De Boer feels the same way: “The gutsy choice to play three defenders and four midfielders paid off. A compliment goes to everyone. Hopefully we can keep this up for the next two matches, which are also very important.”
Ajax: Cillessen, Tete, Veltman (71. Viergever), Riedewald; Serero, Gudelj (61. Heitinga), Klaassen, Sinkgraven; El Ghazi (77. Younes), Milik, Fischer