Although Ajax was playing on the evening of Saint-Nicholas, it couldn’t be said that the long-awaited evening had finally arrived. The Ajacieds have recently posted good wins against Roda JC and Cambuur at home. Three wins in a row, including Heerenveen (5-2), have served to entertain the public as well as create a club record. For the first time in almost twenty years, Ajax has scored at least five times per game in three consecutive home games. The last time that happened was in the spring of 1995.
Beforehand, based on statistics, the odds were in favour of the Amsterdam team. Ajax has yet to lose a December match with De Boer at the helm. Moreover, of the sixteen matches played in the last month of the year under his lead, Ajax has won fifteen of them, and tied one. A confidence-inspiring record. Clearly, the outlook of the holidays and the winter break clearly brings out the best in the Ajacieds.
As announced on the eve of the match, Donny van de Beek received a starting spot. The product of the youth development made his Eredivisie debut in last week’s match against PEC Zwolle (0-2 win). De Boer was forced to make one change. Nick Viergever replaced the suspended Jairo Riedewald. Van de Beek had everything to gain by standing out, and was the first player on the field to take a shot on goal. It wasn’t a dangerous one. Shortly before the break, the midfielder came closer, but this time, he hit the side net.
Van de Beek certainly wasn’t the only one taking shots on goal, as Ajax played an outstanding first half and were continuously threatening in front of Heerenveen’s goal. The Fries team were glad to escape the first half at only 3-0 in an ArenA that was reasonably full despite the holiday.
After twelve minutes, Ajax opened the score with an attack that was perfectly by the book. Viktor Fischer was sent in and created space for himself with a step-over. Davy Klaassen then played in to the Dane who had moved in, and he left Mulder without a chance. After his goal, Fischer was visibly relieved. In Zwolle, the wing forward had been unfortunate in rounding off.
Ajax in charge
Heerenveen was offensively powerless, but had a good chance to tie up the game. Joost van Aken, who had played in Ajax’s academy, stumbled onto goalie Jasper Cillessen from nearby after a corner. It was the only serious attack from the Fries team in the first half. Ajax was in charge in midway through the first half, doubled the score. This time Fischer made the pass. His pass seemed destined to be missed by Arek Milik, who was fully in the penalty kick area, but even while falling, the Pole produced a shot, which was too strong for Mulder: 2-0.
Just like against Roda JC (6-0) and Cambuur (5-1), Ajax took a comfortable lead early on. The crowd got prepared for a shower of goals and could cheer again half an hour later thanks to Younes. Among a true melee of players, the German remained cool and kept possession of the ball. When Younes got into scoring position, he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger: 3-0. With that, the entire front line was on the scoreboard.
Heerenveen coach Foppe de Haan expressed his displeasure with two substitutions after the break. Joey van den Berg and Morten Thorsby were sacrificed for Branco van den Boomen and Simon Thern. It seemed to pay off immediately, as Mitchell te Vrede scored within three minutes: 3-1. But Ajax restored order after 54 minutes with a goal of its own. Fischer scored his second, once again served by Klaassen. Milik also played a part in the fluid combination with a good bounce.
After a three-goal lead was established, De Boer had the chance to carefully plan for the upcoming match against Molde. Kenny Tete will be suspended for the match against the Norwegians, and Ricardo van Rhijn had been warming up for thirty minutes. Van de Beek, who had been playing well, relinquished his spot to Riechedly Bazoer.
The productive club record of three straight home games with at least five goals lay within reach and in the 65th minute, the perfect opportunity presented itself, but Milik missed the penalty kick. But later, the Pole made up for this by bringing Klaassen into scoring position. Ajax’s captain remained cool and brought the home crowd to its feet: 5-1.
One small stain on the festive evening was a second Fries goal, once again by Te Vrede. Joël Veltman played a high ball back to Jasper Cillessen. The keeper wanted to hold on to the ball, which he managed to do, but he hadn’t counted on Te Vrede, who had come up. The striker shot the ball into the empty goal: 5-2.