Ajax has made an outstanding start in the KNVB Cup tournament of 2016-2017. In this first-round cup match, Willem II was left completely hopeless on Wednesday in the ArenA: 5-0. Five goals and three Ajacieds making their debut (two of them scoring) were the main features of this evening of football.
Prior to the match, Willem II had hoped to upset the Ajacieds again. The team from Tilburg made Eredivisie history on August 20, 2016, by beating Ajax for the first time in Amsterdam: 1-2. But the picture was very different in Wednesday’s cup match.
Riechedly Bazoer put the home team ahead after 13 minutes. The midfielder took a corner ball and fired a devastating and sure shot: 1-0. Matthijs de Ligt gave his Ajax 1 debut some extra shine by scoring a header goal. The recently turned 17 year-old sent a spot-on header from a Hakim Ziyech corner clearly into the goal: 2-0. De Ligt thus joined an illustrious group of Ajacieds who scored in their debut.
Just one month after the Tricolours’ historic win against Ajax, this cup match against Willem II was the site of several firsts. In addition to Matthijs de Ligt who proudly made his debut in Ajax’s starting line-up, Abdelhak Nouri and Frenkie de Jong made their first appearance in the selection as substitutes.
The officiating in the ArenA was also a first. Referee Danny Makkelie was officially assisted by video referee Pol van Boekel from a video vehicle near the field. Should any unclear situations arise, Makkelie would be able to consult with his video referee. This officiating of Ajax – Willem II had never been done before in professional football.
There were even more points of interest to note on Wednesday. De Ligt was definitely not the only new face on the squad. On this cup evening, Peter Bosz gave the nod to several Ajacieds who had been substitutes in previous weeks. Andre Onana, Jairo Riedewald, Davinson Sanchez, Amin Younes and Nick Viergever all started the game as substitutes. Davy Klaassen and Nemanja Gudelj, normally steady assets on the squad, watched the match from the F-Side.
Compared to the last two games, it was only Hakim Ziyech who was a familiar face with the starting eleven. But the new Ajacied still experienced a first: the Dronte native had been a right forward in prior matches. This time, the ball virtuoso could go for it all from midfield. The Moroccan international took full advantage of this.
The first cup game betwen Ajax – Willem II lost its excitement after the goals by Bazoer and De Ligt, who was Talent of the Toekomst last season. Ajax built its lead calmly. The red card for Willem II player Anouar Kali (two yellows after one hour) helped. Vaclav Cerny came in for his centre forward Kasper Dolberg after one hour. The Czech player played his first minutes of this season and experienced his cup debut as an Ajacied. Cerny saw first-hand how Ziyech scored the 3-0 goal from nearby. Ensured of a good victory against the Tilburg team, Ajax sent one more rookie onto the field for his debut on ArenA grass. Nouri (19) replaced Ziyech for the last twenty minutes.
Cornucopia of debuts
The cornucopia of debuts was complete with the debut of De Jong. The 19 year old former Willem II player was granted his first minutes of play. Three debut-ing players in an official Ajax match; these statistics can also be called historic. Lasse Schöne gave the evening extra cachet with his goal from a free kick: 4-0. Nouri proved to be a quick study when he also scored on a free kick. The 5-0 goal from the light-footed Amsterdammer was euphorically greeted by his team mates and fans.
Three promising Ajax debuts, five goals, and a clean sheet. The Ajacieds and fans couldn’t ask for much more on Wednesday evening at ten-thirty. On Thursday, Ajax’s next cup opponent will be announced for their second-round match.