Ajax went down painfully at FC Utrecht on Sunday: 1-0. The Amsterdam team lost its second to last match of the first half of the season. Frank de Boer felt that his team should have played more opportunistically.
Yassin Ayoub sealed the Ajacieds’ fate three minutes before the end. His low shot disappeared into the far corner. The Utrecht folk chanting that the midfielder unleashed with his shot rubbed salt into the gaping Amsterdam wound. FC Utrecht didn’t play a great game, but rewarded itself with a last minute goal. It was a big reward.
But the mood was very different among the Ajacieds afterwards. De Boer’s team had suffered a blow in its hunt for the championship. But fortunately, Ajax still has enough games to convert its title aspirations into a concrete fact.
Game of chess
“It’s very disappointing not come away with no points”, said De Boer in the FC Utrecht press room. “It was a bit of a chess game, in which Ajax was the dominant party. But we didn’t create much. It was a match with very few opportunities. Arek Milik had a great header chance, though. Maybe this would have been a match for us to end at 0-1.”
Ajax got a nasty surprise at the end. “After a long dance, in the end we got nailed with a goal against”, said De Boer regretfully, as he complained about his team’s lack of opportunism at times. The Amsterdam defense especially had time and space to make some offensive moves. Utrecht limited itself to counters.
“Utrecht was well organized. But they weren’t able to apply pressure thanks to how we played”, analysed De Boer. “In the second half, Utrecht took another step back. We need to recognize this more quickly. We need to be more opportunistic. Our central defenders had lots of room because of this. We saw that too late. Maybe it was more of a 0-0 game in that respect. It’s extra bitter when you just give it away in the final minutes.”
Thus the statistics that have haunted Ajax since 2009 (when it had its last win in Utrecht) still holds out. The Nieuw Galgenwaard remains a stadium in which De Boer has only won as an active player. “But let’s not give ourselves a complex here, thinking that we can’t beat this opponent”, emphasized the Ajax coach. “I’m sure we can beat them. Today we saw how tough it can be to play against a defensive team.”