Ajax comes up short in top match

Ajax comes up short in top match

Ajax ha empatado por la tercera vez en cuatro partidos. A pesar de la ventaja en el campo, el campeón nacional no logró derrotar a FC Twente. Miralem Sulejmani fue el único que anotó. Por lo tanto, el partido fue emocionante hasta el final, y Luuk de Jong aprovechó de anotar con un cabezazo: 1-1.

Before the match, coach Frank de Boer indicated that he would not reserve any players for the match against FC Twente, in view of Tuesday’s Champions League fixture against Real Madrid. The national league is the most important competition for Ajax and the home game against FC Twente needed to be won. De Boer had received the good news earlier in the week that both Miralem Sulejmani and Vurnon Anita were able to play. The multifunctional Anita could therefore step in at left full back again, replacing the unfortunate Nicolai Boilesen who injured his hamstring during the away match at PSV.

De Boer’s mind-set was positive before the match given that his previous two encounters with FC Twente, the championship match and the Johan Cruijff shield match, gave him a good feeling. He considered Ajax to be psychological winners of both matches, even though the Johan Cruijff Shield went to FC Twente. He felt the same about the first half of today’s match. Ajax dominated, and within five minutes created two big opportunities. Gregory van der Wiel, playing his 170th official match for Ajax, reached the backline on his first effort. He drove the ball with force across the goal mouth. Three minutes later the attack came from the left, where Sulejmani was industrious. The winger, having quickly recovered from injury to be present in the game, found the side net of the goal. After ten minutes Ajax did capitalize: on the break from an FC Twente corner, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson fed Derk Boerrigter who clearly beat his marker Cornelisse on speed. The left winger, developed at the Twente youth academy, also kept cool after the tremendous rush over 50 meters, and simply found Sulejmani for a tap in goal.
Ajax continued, kept finding free space and men, and the disappointing Twente team miraculously prevented Ajax from scoring more goals. Out of a corner kick, Vertonghen found the back of the net with a good header, only to see his goal – mistakenly - disallowed for off side. Just at the half hour, after good preparation by Sigthórsson, the 2-0 seemed there, but Siem de Jong found Mihaylov on his shot’s trajectory. The 1-0 was a meagre result at half time given the dominance of Ajax. “We had chances to make three of four goals. We stayed composed, patient and pressured well. It looked good from the side”, De Boer said after the match.

The start of the second half also saw Ajax in control, but after Denny Landzaat came onto the field for Twente, this changed. The substitute’s point blank header required a spectacular save by Vermeer. Siem de Jong had a good chance for his 40th Ajax goal, but missed the target high being one on one with Mihaylov. Twente pushed Ajax backwards, and the first half dominance disappeared. In the last ten minutes of the game, as Ajax seemed to gain back control, Dmitry Bulykin replaced the hard working Sigthórsson.
Twente pushed forward with everything they had, which opened spaces in their back line that Anita and Janssen seemed to profit from in the 85th minute. Anita’s pass to Janssen, however, had been well read by Wisgerhof. Because Ajax did not finish that opportunity, Twente kept hope. The team of Co Adriaanse – who celebrated his 500th match as an Eredivisie coach – eventually transformed that hope into the equalizer by Luuk de Jong, three minutes from time: 1-1. “That is sour” De Boer concluded. “This was an expensive lesson. We should have played one on one up front. I and my team can blame ourselves for that. On the positive side: if you can create so many chances against a good team such as Twente is, we are moving in the right direction”.