PSV’s 0-3 win at FC Groningen was a done deal, but Ajax went one step further at Willem II. The Ajacieds regrouped after a tough start and won 0-4. Riechedly Bazoer’s beautiful long range goal was the highlight of the afternoon. The other goals were scored by Arek Milik, Lasse Schöne and Davy Klaassen. With this win, Ajax remains on the heels of PSV, who have a slim one point lead.
Leading up to this match, Frank de Boer had already stated that in this race for the title, neither Ajax nor fellow contender PSV could afford to squander points. The first-placed Eindhoven team was flawless on Saturday evening at FC Groningen, and thus Ajax knew clearly what was required of them: to win.
De Boer was forced to make a substitution after the convincing win at home against AZ. Anwar El Ghazi was suspended after receiving a red card (two yellow cards) and was thus replaced by Schöne. Mike van der Hoorn was in attendance in Tilburg. The defender left Friday’s training early with groin pains, but recovered on time.
Joël Veltman thus played at right back once again. He battled it out with Terell Ondaan, one of the three former Ajacieds in Willem II’s squad. Left back Dico Koppers and Kostas Lamprou were the other two. In addition to that, Lucas Andersen was there as well. The Dane has been loaned out by Ajax and in theory will return to Ajax next season, as De Boer said during the weekly press conference.
Last week, Ajax performed well against AZ (4-1) and was intent to continue in the same way against Willem II. The Tilburg team, however, was not prepared to be led willingly to the slaughterhouse as AZ had been, and started the match full of conviction. The first opportunity was for the home team, but Erik Falkenburg (eight goals) saw his shot land in Jasper Cillessen’s hands.
After about ten minutes, Ajax started to take over. Nick Viergever was able to storm up around the fifteen minute mark, but his shot was turned away by Lamprou. A few minutes later, a textbook attack followed, but captain Klaassen came up just a breath short and was unable to round off the combination.
Milik breaks it open
The 41st minute marked Younes’ moment to make his mark on the match. A shot to the post was a warning for Willem II. A few beats later, the German once again came up in his trademark fashion. His precise pass was destined for Milik at the second post: 0-1. The Pole had been having a difficult match up until that moment, but here he played a key role. Two minutes before the break, Ajax had grabbed the coveted lead.
The lead was like fuel for Ajax’s fire, and in the lively first fifteen minutes of the second half, they increased the lead. After Van der Hoorn had missed a header opportunity from a corner, Bazoer claimed attention in a fantastic way. The midfielder sent a hard shot into the upper corner from a far distance, 0-2. It was a gem of a goal which was extensively celebrated by Bazoer and his team mates.
The game seemed to be a done deal at this point, and if it hadn’t been, the 0-3 goal ensured that it was. Achenteh thought that he could play the ball back to Lamprou without any problem, but Schöne was on top of it. The Dane scored from nearby. Ajax was very efficient and completely merciless with Willem II. In the 63rd minute, Klaassen scored the 0-4 goal. Younes was made free, but saw his shot land on the crossbar. The rebound was picked up by Klaassen, who scored beautifully with a mid-air volley.
In a time frame of 22 minutes, albeit broken up by halftime, Ajax had taken full control of the match and had dealt Willem II a knock-out. The Ajacieds played out the rest of the match calmly and De Boer brought in Robert Muric, Ricardo van Rhijn and Viktor Fischer as substitutes. Anything was possible this afternoon in Tilburg.
Score summary: 43. Milik 0-1, 52. Bazoer 0-2, 60. Schöne 0-3, 65. Klaassen 0-4
Ajax: Cillessen, Veltman, Van der Hoorn (75. Van Rhijn), Viergever, Dijks, Bazoer, Klaassen, Gudelj, Schöne (69. Muric), Milik, Younes (80. Fischer).