Ajax has ended its training camp in Qatar with a 2-0 win against Schalke 04. Arek Milik and Anwar El Ghazi scored the goals in the Qatar Sports Club stadium. “We dominated against a very defensive Schalke”, according to De Boer, who saw Joël Veltman retire early due to an injury.
Frank de Boer wanted to close a successful training week in Qatar with a nice result against Schalke 04, the ‘cherry on the cake’, as he called it. And they did. “We dominated”, said De Boer. “We had the best opportunities, had the most possession. I think that they were only truly dangerous twice. We deserved to win.”
However, this great result wasn’t a done deal from the start as within fifteen minutes, Joël Veltman had to leave the field due to an injury. Diagnosis: a light sprain on his left hamstring. It was a dramatic start for Ajax and obviously bad news considering that Eredivisie play will shortly resume. “I’m not expecting that he’ll be able to play on Friday against Groningen”, said De Boer. “That’s a bitter pill for him and for the team. But Mike van der Hoorn has shown that he’s ready, too.”
Ajax regrouped in the compact but beautiful Qatar Sports Club. Van der Hoorn, who replaced Veltman did a great job guarding Klaas Jan Huntelaar and won almost every duel against the former Ajax striker. Ajax, playing in its strongest line-up, was offensively good. Ricardo Kishna, with his lighting quick plays, was a thorn in the German team’s side, and Lasse Schöne came close to scoring the opening goal with a hard shot that went just wide. Schalke was dangerous on the counter, but they didn’t create many big opportunities.
At halftime, Schalke 04 substituted almost the entire team, while at Ajax, only Jairo Riedewald (light knee pain) was replaced by Nick Viergever. Schalke applied slightly more pressure during the second half, but Ajax still had the best opportunities. Davy Klaassen shot wide in the 61st minute from far away, but three minutes later, Ajax made good. Arek Milik received the ball from the left, pushed through well, and scored the 1-0 goal with a hard shot.
As Schalke hunted for the tying goal Ajax remained dangerous. Anwar El Ghazi was particularly threatening. The winger, who came in for Kishna, was a constant threat and brought the score to 2-0 during extra time on a pass from Schöne, who had broken through. The cherry on the cake was there, although Veltman’s injury was a definite sour note. “Joël is important on defense and also as a personality within the team. This is a smudge on the week. But overall I’m very happy. We’ve had a good week.”
Final score: 2-0
Score summary: 64. Milik 1-0, 90+2. El Ghazi 2-0
Yellow card: Boateng (Schalke 04), El Ghazi (Ajax), Andersen (Ajax), Höger (Schalke 04)
Ajax: Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman (15. Van der Hoorn), Moisander, Riedewald (46. Viergever); Klaassen, Serero, Andersen (80. Bazoer); Schöne, Milik, (77. Sigthórsson), Kishna (65. El Ghazi)
Substitutes not used: Boer; Tete, Ligeon, Zivkovic, Menig