Ajax has had an outstanding start to the second half of the season. In the Amsterdam ArenA, Ajax was too strong for Feyenoord, defeating them 3-0. Viktor Fischer (2x) and Christian Eriksen scored for Ajax. Kenneth Vermeer stopped a penalty kick after the break. Ajax played with ten men for the last half hour following a red card for Ricardo van Rhijn.
Ajax ended up being the weekend’s big winner. The first competition round of 2013 went well for Ajax on virtually all fronts. After PSV, FC Twente and Vitesse all lost points on Friday and Saturday, Ajax delivered a defeat to its competitor Feyenoord on Sunday. All of these developments bring Ajax to within one point of leader FC Twente. A better start to the season’s second half could not have been imagined.
The ArenA had undergone a metamorphosis during the winter break. While Ajax was in Brazil earlier this month, the main building and the head stands underwent significant renovations. The channels on the west side have been closed and 900 new seats have been placed there. Moreover, the dug-outs have been integrated in the honour stands, giving the ArenA an almost English feel. In that spectacular setting, one minute of silence took place beforehand as a tribute to member of honour Wim Schoevaart (94), who had recently passed away.
The absolute quiet of the stadium right before kick-off formed a sharp contrast to the noise that filled it from the stands during the first half. The record attendance of almost 53.000 spectators purred with pure enjoyment during the whirlwind first 45 minutes. With two goals, Viktor Fischer was the big man. Just as he had against PSV before the winter break, the 18 year old Dane demanded a starring role in this top match against Feyenoord. After just six minutes and four seconds, Fischer brought the ArenA to its first moments of ecstasy in this Klassieker. On a pass from Niklas Moisander, he first left Daryl Janmaat in the dust, and subsequently outplayed Feyenoord keeper Mulder: 1-0.
One minute after the 1-0 goal, the guests had a tremendous opportunity to tie the game. Lex Immers had the 1-1 goal at his boots, but Kenneth Vermeer stood in his way with a great save. Feyenoord’s best opportunity of the game had just occurred in the first half. Ajax was overwhelmingly stronger and more dangerous. For example, Christian Eriksen could have – and perhaps should have – doubled the score in the tenth minute. But at that moment, Eriksen lacked the refinement and precision that his fellow Dane had exhibited minutes before.
Frank de Boer: “We were equal in the first fifteen minutes, but after that, we had the match under control. We were especially good on defense. I’m very pleased with the result, and with the play we showed. Although I do think that we can do better. I see a lot of confidence in the team. Let’s hope that we can hand on to that feeling for as long as possible.”
The difference on the field was in fact larger than the margin on the rankings list. Beforehand, Ajax and Feyenoord had the same number of points. In the ArenA, however, Ajax was clearly superior to the Rotterdam team. That was made clear again when Joris Mathijsen made a sloppy mistake five minutes before the break. The 84 time international misplayed the ball in front of his own goal to Fischer, who then knew exactly what to do with it: 2-0. The forward from Aarhus had the chance to immortalize himself thirty seconds later when he had the third goal at his feet.
That third goal came midway in the second half. It wasn’t Fischer – who had been substituted by then – but his countryman Christian Eriksen who signed for the third goal. His pivoting free kick landed precisely between the posts.
The only black mark on the afternoon was Ricardo van Rhijn’s red card. Ajax’s right back received his second yellow card in the 64th minute after a foul on Feyenoord player Boëtius in the box. Feyenoord didn’t manage to capitalize on the awarded penalty shot. Vermeer took the title ‘Ajax Player of the Match’ by stopping Immers’ penalty kick. The damage was limited to that. Finally, these incidents were only footnotes in this fiftieth competition win against Feyenoord. This anniversary victory in the Klassieker ended with a well-deserved result: 3-0.