Hard-fought win for Ajax in Kerkrade

Hard-fought win for Ajax in Kerkrade

It was a tough fight, but Ajax won its fourth post-winter break game by defeating Roda JC in Kerkrade, 0-2.  Davy Klaassen opened the score early in the second half, and Amin Younes sealed the victory late in extra time.  It was the German’s first goal of the season.

Thanks to this win, Ajax decreased leader Feyenoord’s lead on them to two points.  The Rotterdam team would play later on Sunday against FC Twente.  PSV is three points behind Ajax.

Keeping an unblemished streak
After an excellent start to this calendar year, Ajax wanted to continue in the same vein in Kerkrade. Previously, Ajax had posted consecutive wins against PEC Zwolle (1-3), FC Utrecht (0-1) and ADO Den Haag (3-0).  In the Parkstad Limburg Stadium, coach Peter Bosz kept the same line-up as last week against ADO.

This meant that Justin Kluivert was once again chosen.  For his second starting spot, the 17 year-old wing forward was supported by several family members in the stands, including his father, Patrick.  Incidentally, it was in September 1994 during a game at Roda JC that Papa Kluivert scored his first away goal in Ajax 1.  Son Justin was hoping to follow in his footsteps on Limburg soil.

Familiar faces
A familiar face was at the helm of opponent Roda JC.  Yannis Anastasiou played in 38 official duels for Ajax between 2004 and 2006, and, after ending his active football career, he earned some coaching experience at the Toekomst sports complex.  Anastiasiou has welcomed no fewer than nine new players in the past month, but, against Ajax, he stuck mainly to the same eleven which had defeated Excelsior (4-0) last week.  Only Mohamed El Makrini was new in the squad.

Despite the four goals scored against Excelsior, Roda is by far the team which has scored the fewest goals in the Eredivisie, with just twelve goals in twenty games.  However, they have only suffered 25 goals against in these games.  In summary, Roda is a rigid opponent, which Ajax discovered first-hand in the first half.  The Ajacieds barely managed to make a dent in the Limburg team’s defensive wall.  The danger that was created came mainly from the second line.  Kluivert sent a long-distance shot just wide, while Lasse Schöne and Hakim Ziyech both found goalie Van Leer in their path.

Right before the break, Amin Younes got his first good opportunity, but the German’s shot from a golden position was blocked.  This proved to the build-up to a better second half during which the Ajacieds created more concrete danger in front of the opposition’s goal.  The first dangerous moment was actually for Roda JC, but Mitchel Paulissen shot into the side-net.  On the opposite side, Ajax struck.  Ziyech played a curve ball to Dolberg.  The Dane then set-up the ball beautifully for Klassen, who had stormed up and went on to outsmart Van Leer with a shot into the near corner: 0-1.

Ajax came close to scoring the 0-2 goal three times in the 57th minute.  Ziyech stumbled on Van Leer twice and Joël Veltman saw his shot get blocked.  Roda was still alive, and on the hunt for a tying goal.  The Limburg team even had two outstanding opportunities to tie the game.  Both were by Abdul Jeleer Ajagun.

The score remained 0-1 for a long time.  Substitute Abdelhak Nouri’s shot from a difficult angle went wide, and Younes’ big opportunity came at last.  The German was hoping to finally end his no-goal status, but was unfortunate when his shot from the edge of the box hit the underside of the crossbar and rolled back onto the field.

Strong Onana
Nouri also hit the aluminium when he picked up a rebound from a Donny van de Beek shot.  The latter was able to shoot again after the resulting shuffle, but his shot went over this time.  Thus the margin remained only one goal, and as a result, Roda was going for broke in the final minutes.  This created several nail-biting situations in front on Andre Onana’s goal, but the Cameroonian stood his ground.

It was in the dying seconds that another goal was scored.  Younes was launched by Veltman, and this time, he succeeded.  The relief was great in the Amsterdam team’s camp, and, naturally, for the forward himself.