The greatest Ajacied of all time is no longer with us. Johan Cruijff’s passing away has left Ajax in deep mourning. Ajax did everything possible to pay tribute to the legendary number fourteen. The match against PEC Zwolle was completely for Cruijff. The beautiful celebration made a deep impact and was followed by a good performance by Ajax. The game ended at 3-0 thanks to goals by Lasse Schöne and Arek Milik (2).
Perhaps Johan Cruijff was watching from heaven. Had he still been with us and been watching the match, he would undoubtedly have been satisfied with the way in which the Ajacieds performed in the first half. It was according to Ajax’s signature style of grabbing the opponent by its throat and taking it apart by offensive playing over the flanks. Exactly how Cruijff made his name globally and will be remembered forever.
Well taken care of
Frank de Boer had said that his players needed to stay focussed on the game. It was up to others to ensure that the tribute to Cruijff would go according to plan. This was very well taken care of and left a great impression. A good example is good to follow, as it turned out. De Boer’s advice was well taken on board by his players.
After PSV’s win in Alkmaar, Ajax knew what they needed to do. A three point win would put the Amsterdam team back in the lead and would bring the margin between the two teams to two points. As De Boer had announced prior to the game, no changes were made to the starting line-up. With PEC, loaned out Ajax player Queensy Menig started on the squad, as did former Ajacieds Mickey van der Hart and Ouasim Bouy. Sheraldo Becker, who has been loaned out like Menig, came in 62 minutes into the game.
Ajax struck immediately in the simmering ArenA. Lasse Schöne is known as a free kick specialist, but he showed that he had a great header. The Dane sent an outstanding pass from Nick Viergever into the goal. Ajax thus had what it wanted: an early lead.
After that, Ajax seemed undecided about how to proceed. Seek a second goal and put away PEC early, or nurse the lead for a little while longer. It was the last, but from the 25th minute, Ajax put its foot on the gas pedal once again. A beautiful rush by Mitchell Dijks brought back everyone’s confidence. The left back turned up suddenly on the right side and took a hard shot. Mickey van der Hart made the save.
This was just postponing the inevitable, as the 2-0 goal came after that. Riechedly Bazoer came up on the right side of the penalty kick area and served Milik, who scored from nearby: 2-0. The forward went to distinguish himself as man of the first half and came close to a clean hat trick. With a diagonal low shot, Milik brought the score to 3-0, but more good fortune evaded him after this. His header after a free kick from the left hit the crossbar.
Directly afterwards, another shot came for Milik to score his third goal, but this time, he shot over with his weaker right foot. Slowly, the match’s flame died out. Ajax didn’t need anything more, and PEC was simply unable to do anything else. Jasper Cillessen, wearing a mask, enjoyed an easy afternoon.
After an hour of play, De Boer pulled out pillars Bazoer and Davy Klaassen. Donny van de Beek and Daley Sinkgraven replaced them. Fifteen minutes before time, Viktor Fischer came in. The substitutes wanted to show what they can do and brought freshness to the team. However, the 4-0 remained elusive, despite a few opportunities.
Line-up Ajax: Cillessen; Veltman, Van der Hoorn, Viergever, Dijks, Bazoer (Sinkgraven), Klaassen, Gudelj, Schöne, Milik, Younes (Fischer)