Ajax has won its away game against Cambuur. A goal by Davy Klaassen in the 61st minute secured three critical points in this race for the championship.
Frank de Boer – unsurprisingly – started the same eleven players who have started the past five matches. Considering that Kenny Tete had made his comeback the day before with the Ajax Reserves, we will need to wait and see what defense will look like in next week’s game against FC Utrecht. But for now, Joël Veltman was at right back and Mike van der Hoorn and Nick Viergever formed the defensive heart. “I have no reason to make changes”, De Boer had said during the previous day’s press conference. This is why the midfield and offense were also identical to how they’ve been in the last few weeks.
Meager first half
In a meager first half, the difference between leader Ajax and last-placed Cambuur wasn’t as big as their gap in rankings would lead us to believe. The biggest event was Mike van der Hoorn’s injury. He collided hard with keeper Nienhuis and club physician Don de Winter reported to the unlucky player, who then retreated to the sidelines. Fortunately, the defender could resume playing a few minutes after that.
He had not missed much. Ajax’s real show came in the thirtieth minute when Amin Younes fooled the Fries defense. His shot on goal was caught by Nienhuis. Four minutes before the break, Van der Hoorn retreated to the sidelines again (in addition to his wound, the collision had also caused a severe bruise on his thigh) and Ricardo van Rhijn took over his spot. Veltman moved to the centre. This substitution was the only noteworthy fact from the first half.
El Ghazi key
In the second half, De Boer sent in El Ghazi for Schöne in the 54th minute in order to create a new impulse. If Ajax didn’t pick up the pace, their lead on competitor PSV would be extinguished in the course of the evening. The biggest opportunity for team was in the 57th minute. Jergé Hoefraad hustled up on the left side and sent a low diagonal shot onto the goal. Cillessen kept his team from a deficit. Hopefully, Ajax had been woken up.
This appeared to be the case, and Frank de Boer’s team took the lead in the 61st minute. Substitute El Ghazi sent a sharp pass to Davy Klaassen, who sent it in against the ropes. Naturally it had to be Klaassen; this was his fifth goal against Cambuur. El Ghazi could have scored the 0-2 goal seven minutes later when he was alone in front of the goal. He sent the ball wide. Younes and Milik had more opportunities but the game remained exciting due to the small lead.
Int he 81st minute, the diminutive German seemed poised to lock up the game, when he received a taylor-made pass from El Ghazi. But he shot wide. In the closing minutes, all of Cambuur screamed for a penalty kick due to hands by Dijks, but Vink (rightly) didn’t grant a penalty kick. So Ajax held on to its lead and booked a critical victory in the race for the championship. Four matches to go.
Score summary: 61. Klaassen 0-1
Ajax: Cillessen, Veltman, Van der Hoorn (42. Van Rhijn), Viergever, Dijks, Bazoer (88. Serero), Klaassen, Gudelj, Schöne (55. El Ghazi), Milik, Younes.