Ajax has kept a clean sheet for the 10th time this season. The Amsterdam team defeated NAC in Breda by 0-3. An own goal by Jethro Mashart and goals by substitutes Zakaria Labyad and Klaas Jan Huntelaar led to the final score.
Expectations were high for this anniversary edition of NAC – Ajax. Not strange, considering that Ajax has been on a roll lately and NAC is in last place of the Eredivisie ; Ajax won its last game by 1-7 against another low-ranked team, and last season, defeated NAC by 0-8 in Breda.
But these things don’t really mean anything. Ajax, who can secure continuation in the Champions League in Tuesday’s game against AEK in Greece, played a meagre first half against NAC. Erik ten Hag’s team was unable to create any good opportunities against the defensively disciplined NAC. The absence of Hakim Ziyech was sorely felt. The creative midfielder has a sprained knee and was forced to sit out this game against NAC. David Neres stood in for him, and Donny van de Beek took over at midfield. Van de Beek, who was the hero in Breda last season with 3 goals, was also unable to break the yellow wall in the first 39 minutes.
But that changed: 6 minutes before halftime, Ajax finally – and deservedly – took the lead. The ball came in high from a corner to the feet of 18 year-old NAC debut-making player Jethro Mashart, who was under pressure by Van de Beek, and who subsequently scored into his own goal: 0-1.
Labyad for Van de Beek
After the break, NAC had its firsts opportunity. Te Vrede shot onto the goal, where Onana deflected the ball over. On Ajax’s side, Van de Beek didn’t return for the second half. His knee had been treated several times prior to the break, and he relinquished his spot to Zakaria Labyaad.
All told, Labyad needed 8 minutes to score. Frenkie de Jong made a pass to Neres, who sent a header back to Labyad, and the substitute sent a beautiful volley into the goal: 0-2. After 3 cup goals, this was his first Eredivisie goal in an Ajax jersey.
Huntelaar for Dolberg
Ajax could have gotten more from this game, but especially Kasper Dolberg was unlucky in the finish. The Danish striker made way for Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the 80th minute. The latter has scored 10 times in 11 previous games against NAC. He also made good in this game. Deep in extra time, he passed Van Leer, 0-3. After that, Huntelaar had one more opportunity, but his shot went wide.
So Ajax kept a clean sheet for the 10th time this season. Only Heracles (1-1), PSV (3-0 loss) and, Excelsior 2 weeks ago (1-7 win) have passed Onana this season.