Ajax was able to convert their offensive intentions against PSV in the second half. The result was a well-earned 2-0 win. Interestingly enough, Ismaïl Aissati played an important part in both Ajax goals. In addition to points, Ajax also gained valuable confidence for the remainder of the exciting stride for the championship.
Frank de Boer’s starting line-up was surprising. He couldn’t use Theo Janssen due to his suspension. The coach decided to change his starting team in several areas. Janssen’s spot at midfield was taken over by Eyong Enoh. Daley Blind was the new left back: Blind junior got the surprising nod over Dico Koppers. Vurnon Anita was once again the trusted controlling midfielder, and Siem de Jong started as centre forward again.
The duel between the Eredivisie’s number 2 (Ajax) and number 4 teams played a mostly tactical top match for the first 45 minutes. PSV defended fiercely and gambled on the lightning quick Tim Matavz and Dries Mertens. The fact that the Eindhoven team weren’t able to create even one real opportunity was indicative of how powerless interim coach Phillip Cocu’s defensive tactics were.
Ajax played offensively in the sold out ArenA, going for the win. The home team’s tactics didn’t deliver many opportunities in the first half. Only De Jong (header, over) and Jan Vertonghen (free kick boxed away by Przemyslaw Tyton) came close to scoring. The match, which had been sold out weeks ago (51.207 spectators) hoped that the fireworks would come in the second half. “Before the break, the last push to hurt PSV was missing”, said Frank de Boer afterwards.
With wins by AZ (1-0) and Feyenoord (3-0), and FC Twente’s tie 1-1 on Saturday night), Ajax and PSV each knew what they needed to do to stay strong in the stride for the title. “You don’t want to lose this match”, said De Boer before Ajax – PSV. With the in between standing, Ajax was fulfilling this assignment, in any case.
Football fireworks were set off shortly after the break, after PSV via Zakaria Labyad had his first opportunity. Vermeer saved the team from going a goal down. Ajax’s well deserved lead came three minutes later. Former PSV player Aissati turned the ball from far out and cunningly put the ball over keeper Tyton, in the far corner. The left winger put his team on the winning track with his lucky play (was it a pass, or a conscious goal?)
“If that last push is missing, then you need to have luck on your side”, said De Boer about Aissati’s nice goal. “I thought that Ismaïl meant to pass the ball. After we got to 2-0, we put on the pressure and created opportunities. We strive to continuously put our opponents under pressure. As a technical staff, we’re proud of what we saw today. I’m a proud coach.”
Seven minutes after the opening goal, Aissati played a big part again, this time in the ‘preparation’ stage of Ajax’s second goal. Marcelo was clearly fed up with Aissati’s pestering that he hauled the Ajax player down in the Eindhoven box. De Jong made good on the penalty which was awarded by referee Vink: 2-0.
Thus Ajax was called the winner of the exciting match between Ajax and PSV just before six thirty on Sunday evening. The Eredivisie 2011-2012 has seven rounds of play remaining. With this victory, Ajax won not only points, but a lot of confidence for a potentially successful end to the season. “We need to play like this for seven more matches”, said De Boer, referring to Ajax’s dominant role against PSV. “If we can do this against the upcoming opponents, we’ll become champions. I’m convinced of that.”