For the third year running Ajax have failed to win the opening match of the new Eredivisie season. After Heracles raining on their parade twice, it was now Vitesse who succeeded in stealing points from Ajax at the start (2-2).
Ajax did manage to come back from trailing twice in the GelreDome, via Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic, but that wasn’t enough to secure a win. In the final stage of the match former Ajacied Riechedly Bazoer – scorer for Vitesse – was sent off. Even though Ajax then outnumbered Vitesse, they still couldn’t take advantage.
Hakim Ziyech and Nico Tagliafico were on the starting eleven in Arnhem. The Moroccan and Argentinian internationals returned to Amsterdam later than the rest, due to participating in the Africa Cup and the Copa América, which kept them out of the Johan Cruyff Shield against PSV (2-0). Their return was at the expense of Quincy Promes and Sergino Dest.
Unfortunate counter goal
Ajax had an arduous start and fell behind early through an unfortunate moment. Perr Schuurs changed the direction of a shot by Bero, leaving the ball to ricochet into the Ajax goal behind Andre Onana.
After some 25 minutes the Ajacieds got their act together. The equaliser by Donny van de Beek was the result of a good Amsterdam phase. Hakim Ziyech passed to the attacking midfielder, who did score this time. Earlier on in the match Van de Beek had missed a number of opportunities. Daley Blind hit the post.
In the second half Ajax got off to a poor start and suffered the consequence. Bazoer, of all people, kicked the Arnhem club back into the lead with a distance shot in the 55th minute.
Huge opportunities for the equaliser missed
Only a minute later Ajax came close to 2 all, but oddly it didn’t happen. First Ziyech had an opportunity at close range, but he ran into Pasveer. The rebound produced an even bigger opportunity, but Razvan Marin kicked the ball over an almost empty goal.
Ajax then upped the pressure on Vitesse and were rewarded for their efforts. Tadic levelled the scores with a delightful shot. The Ajax captain was on the verge of being offside, but after consultation with the VAR the goal was allowed. That lifted Ajax’ spirits.
Ajax had the momentum and wanted to settle the match once and for all. Unfortunately they failed to do that, despite Bazoer being sent off and a formidable final push. Perhaps that is the story of this match; Ajax had numerous opportunities, but couldn’t follow through.
Image: Ajax.nl & Pro Shots