Ajax has crowned its 2000th Eredivisie match with a great win. Visiting Vitesse, the Eredivisie leader won on Sunday, 1-3. All Ajax goals were scored in the last twenty minutes. Sam Hendriks made his debut ten minutes before the end.
Finally, Ajax had something to celebrate in Arnhem. About three and a half years after their last win in the Gelredome, Ajax posted an important victory. The rise of Vitesse – who has scored fifteen goals in its first four home games – was halted thanks to the Amsterdam team’s win. Ajax also somewhat washed away the bitter aftertaste of the midweek European loss against Fenerbahçe.
The players reported to the visitors’ stand no fewer than rough times within twenty minutes. Three times this was to celebrate a goal, and the last time was to celebrate the win with the fans who had made the trip. Especially the second Ajax goal was the source of enormous relief. That was also reinforced by the manner in which the goal scorer, Viktor Fischer and Riechedly Bazoer, celebrated. Thanks to a blue ladder in front of the visitors’ stand, interaction with the fans was optimal. It almost seemed like a stage had been set up there for the purpose of celebrations.
El Ghazi sick
Ajax was forced to make do in Arnhem without the sick Anwar El Ghazi. The absence of the Eredvisie top scorer (8 goals in 9 matches) was a blow for Ajax. Added to the absence of the injured Arek Milik (abdomen) and Yaya Sanogo (groin), the choices for centre forward were slim. Frank de Boer chose for Viktor Fischer in the point of attack with Amin Younes and Daley Sinkgraven at his sides.
Vitesse dominated the beginning of the match. The home team made their way several times to Jasper Cillessen’s goal. Denys Oliinyks shot in particular was a strong one. But a good save by Cillessen prevented an early deficit in the Gelredome.
After the home team’s opening offensive, an impressive fourteenth minute followed. The entire stadium rose to give Johan Cruijff a warm and heartfelt standing ovation. Last week, it became news that the illustrious number 14 is suffering from lung cancer. Both in the visitors’ stands and in the Vitesse stands, many demonstrations of support could be seen in the form of banners and shirts for Cruijff.
Riechedly Bazoer created the first danger for Ajax after half an hour. The midfielder received the ball after good work by Younes. His attempt at close range was turned away by Vitesse keeper Eloy Room. Ten minutes later, it was Vitesse that came close to scoring when captain Guram Kashia lifted the ball towards the upper corner. Cillessen ensured that Ajax came away unscathed.
Ajax was forced to continue without Davy Klaassen after halftime. The captain was suffering from head pain after a collision that had occurred with fellow captain Kashia in the first half. With Lasse Schöne in as his replacement, Ajax went down ten minutes later. Valeri Qazaishvili made his way into the penalty kick area via a good play, and subsequently shot the ball in via Joël Veltman’s foot and the post: 1-0.
Twenty minutes before time, the match turned around completely. With two goals scored within two minutes, Ajax turned the 1-0 deficit into a 1-2 lead. Viktor Fischer and Riechedly Bazoer struck in the 71st and 73rd minutes without mercy. Fischer reacted sharply in a rebound after Veltman had seen his shot rescued out of the goal by a post and the keeper. In the attack that followed, a goal was scored. Riechedly Bazoer out played Maikel van der Werff, after which he shot the ball into the near corner of the Vitesse goal.
The two goals inspired Ajax to do more. Four minutes after his goal, Bazoer sent a shot against the post, signaling his desire for a second goal. This also signaled that Ajax was completely in control.
Ten minutes before time, Sam Hendriks made his official debut in Ajax 1. The 20 year old centre forward had played a key role on Friday evening in the Ajax Reserves – Fortuna Sittard (3-0) game by scoring all of the goals. On Sunday afternoon, he played a nice supporting role when he delivered the ball well to substitute Lasse Schöne. The Dane scored the liberating 1-3 goal, after which Ajax finally left the Gelredome with three points
Score summary: 54. Qazaishvili 1-0, 71. Fischer 1-1, 73. Bazoer 1-2, 86. Schöne 1-3
Ajax: Cillessen, Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks, Bazoer, Klaassen (46. Schöne), Gudelj, Younes, Fischer (81. Van der Hoorn), Sinkgraven (81. Hendriks)
Substitutes: Boer, Van Rhijn, Heitinga, Viergever