Ajax has started the New Year well. Thanks to a difficult 0-1 win at ADO Den Haag, Frank de Boer’s team holds on to the top rankings spot. Midway through the first half, Amin Younes scored the only goal of the afternoon.
Davy Klaassen was absent as competition resumed in The Hague. The captain returned last weekend from training camp in Belek, Turkey, with knee problems. Donny van de Beek replaced the captain at midfield. The line-up was otherwise identical as it had been for the friendly match against Hamburger SV. The attacking line consisted of Viktor Fischer, Arek Milik and Amin Younes.
The sun was shining in chilly The Hague. Jasper Cillessen even wore a visor as he continuously had the full sun in his face. The game unfolded principally in ADO’s half of the field. Cillessen barely needed to take action in the first forty five minutes, which was filled with chanting. Frank de Boer had this to say about the unsavoury chanting: “We had agreed beforehand that we wouldn’t let ourselves get intimidated by the ADO players or the crowd. We would let our feet do the talking. And we did that. But it seems clear to me that this is not acceptable. It’s up to the KNVB and the clubs to make a decision about this.”
Amin Younes did let his feet do the talking midway through the first half. The German put Ajax in a well-deserved lead. After a good pass from Joël Veltman, who was the acting captain, Younes finished off nicely. With a smart move, the sent the ball past keeper Martin Hansen: 0-1. Except for Younes’ goal, nothing much happened in front of either goal. Ajax found itself mostly on the home team’s end of the field, but this did not result in many dangerous moments.
Ten minutes into the second half, there was a scare when Cillessen collided hard with Ruben Schaken. The ADO forward’s foot stepped hard onto the keeper’s face. It looked as if the battered Ajax keeper would not be able to continue, but he had a different idea. After extensive treatment of his wound, he returned to the match with cotton compresses in his nose.
With a 0-1 score on the board, the second half remained exciting. De Boer’s team didn’t manage to score a second goal, leaving the door open for ADO to continue to fight. With the knowledge that PSV and Feyenoord had suffered some damage here earlier this season, the leader needed to stay sharp. “Especially after the break, we made some bad decisions with the ball”, said De Boer afterwards. “ADO started to play more opportunistically. So the game remained exciting until the last second.”
Big opportunity Havenaar
Ten minutes before time, the green and yellow team even had a fantastic opportunity to score the tying goal, via Mike Havenaar. From a prime position to the Ajax goal, the tall centre forward sent a header that was so soft that it seemed to be a played-back ball.
In the final minutes, there was danger on both sides. The biggest opportunity was for substitute Anwar El Ghazi, whose header hit the crossbar. Younes’ early goal turned out to be golden. De Boer: “It’s still nice to win 0-1 in The Hague, where Feyenoord and PSV both lost points. In that respect, it’s a good start, although there are still several areas for improvement.”
Score summary: 21. Younes 0-1
Ajax: Cillessen, Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks, Bazoer, Gudelj, Van de Beek (82. Sinkgraven), Fischer, Milik (83. El Ghazi), Younes (87. Schöne).