On Saturday afternoon, Ajax won their closed friendly game against Sparta Rotterdam (3-1) at de Toekomst sports park. Vaclav Cerny (2x) and Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored some beautiful goals for Marcel Keizer’s team.
Ajax’s coach called on a mix of players from Ajax 1 and the Ajax Reserves. David Neres, Huntelaar and Cerny were the forwards, and Damil Dankerlui and Leon Bergsma were the duo on central defense. All squad players from the Champions League match against Nice (2-2) were given the day off.
Two people in attendance at de Toekomst share a special history. Ajax Reserves coach Michael Reiziger was a spectator for this match against his former employer, Sparta. He watched as OIe Tobiasen took on his former role as assistant coach. This was reminiscent of 1996, when the Dane, a former back, was Reiziger’s successor at Ajax, as a player.
Do-over for Cerny
Ajax started off this game against last season’s 15th placed team with swift combinations. Within one minute, Cerny had his first opportunity, but he was careless in his mediocre pass to Klaas Jan Huntelaar.
The Czech forward continued to hunt for his opportunity and, fifteen minutes later, he was considerably sharper when he got another chance. A long distance low shot sailed into the corner with utmost precision: 1-0.
With a lead in the pocket, Ajax also was sharp on defense. However, Benjamin van Leer let in a goal against shortly before halftime, after Carel Eiting had unwittingly touched a ball with his hand. Loris Brogno made good on the resulting penalty kick: 1-1.
Difference in strength
Keizer saw his team come out of the starting blocks swiftly. It was Cerny once again who gained more confidence and brought his team into the 2-1 lead in a similar fashion to his first goal.
Ajax was on a roll and, via Frenkie de Jong, was in control at midfield. Five minute after Cerny’s goal, another goal came. A rapid-fire counter, via Mateo Cassierra and De Jong, landed at Huntelaar’s feet, and with a clean shot, he scored the 3-1 goal.
Dress rehearsal for the Eredivisie
Sparta proved itself to be eager, and reacted with a dangerous phase in front of Ajax’s goal. Van Leer made some excellent saves, and, perhaps with the help of a couple of guardian angels on the crossbar, he ensured that the game remained at 3-1.
For Ajax, this was a good dress rehearsal for the Eredivisie kick-off, which takes place next week on Saturday against Heracles Almelo. The hunt for the 34th national title will then start for Keizer and company.
Line-up Ajax: Van Leer; Zeefuik, Dankerlui, Bergsma, Dijks (41. Sidoel); Eiting, De Jong, Mazraoui; Neres (45. Cassierra), Huntelaar, Cerny.