After winning the first match of 2016 last week, Ajax posted a 1-0 win at home. Riechedly Bazoer’s lightning quick goal in the 26th second was enough to ensure an exciting win against Vitesse.
After winning in The Hague, Ajax’s task was to continue in this fashion at home. Only then would the Amsterdam team be able to maintain a comfortable distance between itself and PSV, who doesn’t play until Sunday. Just like against ADO, that had to happen without captain Davy Klaassen. The midfielder wasn’t yet fit enough to play and was once again replaced by Donny van de Beek. The only difference in the line-up compared to last week was a starting spot for Anwar El Ghazi. De Boer selected him instead of Viktor Fischer.
Ajax had a formidable start in a match that De Boer had called ‘big’. After 26 seconds, leader Ajax had already scored against the number four team. Mitchell Dijks had run up to the back line, and passed to Arek Milik, which seemed to startle Eloy Room. The keeper was unable to hold on to the ball, and Riechedly Bazoer, who had come up, was able to send the ball in neatly, 1-0. It was great that it was Bazoer who had scored this 100th home goal against for Vitesse, which was the player’s third of the season. The young midfielder had been the target of racist chanting last week. The only thing that Bazoer wanted was to let his feet do the talking. He did that in front of his home crowd once again. He scored the earliest Ajax goal since March 11, 2001, when Nikos Machlas scored after seventeen seconds in Groningen.
After the quick opening goal, a very good match unfolded in which Ajax showed great stuff, especially in the first half. With alternating lighting quick combinations and a long ball, Vitesse wasn’t quite sure what to do with Ajax at first. But coach Rob Maas’ team had a great opportunity in the eighth minute when three Arhnem players came face to face with two Ajax defenders. Jasper Cillessen made a save on Milot Rashica’s shot, and the rebound wasn’t destined for Isaiah Brown.
A downside in De Boer’s plan was Kenny Tete being forced to leave in the 19th minute with a knee injury. Mike van der Hoorn proved to be an outstanding replacement. He took a spot which was central in defence, and Joël Veltman
Captain Veltman found himself in a good scoring position in the 33rd minute in front of Room’s goal. He had received a perfect pass from Bazoer and shot directly, but his attempt went past the goal. Prior to that, El Ghazi had almost scored the 2-0 goal after a series of beautiful passes. Room ticked the ball out of his goal.
During the first half, Vitesse grew strongner, but Ajax was outstanding on defence. Four minutes before halftime, Van der Hoorn took action when Valeri Qazaishvili seemed poised to create danger. The 1-0 score remained on the board at halftime.
Vitesse continued in the same vein in the second half. Ajax created danger now and again via Younes, but it was the Arnhem team who attempted to make the plays. The statistics showed that Vitesse dominated in terms of possession.
But Vitesse didn’t get any more good opportunities. Ajax came closest to the 2-0 goal. In the 80th minute, El Ghazi’s shot went over via Room’s fingertips and a few minutes later, the outstanding Mitchell Dijks received the ball once again on his hips. After he had closed in a Vitesse player, he launched Milik. The Pole was put through the wringer and, while the Ajax crowd and Milik himself wanted a penalty, referee Kuipers let the play continue. Serero almost scored the golden goal, but Vitesse remained in control, keeping its hopes a point alive. That didn’t come. Ajax continued to defend solidly, and won for the 26th time in 31 home games against Vitesse, remaining six points ahead of PSV. The Eindhoven team still need to play their match against FC Twente on Sunday.
De Boer was pleased: “I have to pay the team a compliment. We kept Vitesse a good 26, 30 meters away from Jasper (Cillessen). We had the better opportunities, but we could have done more in the transitions.”