Five days after playing to a draw, Ajax picked itself up and went on to defeat SC Heerenveen, 3-1. Thanks to this victory, the Amsterdam team has qualified for the semi-finals of the TOTO KNVB Cup tournament. Ajax’s goals were all scored in the first 45 minutes by Noussair Mazraoui and Donny van de Beek (2).
Coach Erik ten Hag amended his starting eleven in four places compared to last Sunday’s game, also against Heerenveen. Lisandro Magallán made his official debut, Andre Onana returned between the posts, and Rasmus Kristensen & Klaas Jan Huntelaar started as well this time.
Ajax made a promising start, scoring in the 3rd minute: following a long pass by Kristensen, Mazraoui finished it off. The home team pressed on, and had a the opportunity to double the score via Huntelaar, but his header went wide.
An interesting occurrence was that, 10 minutes into the match, it was announced that the video referee was out of service due to a technical problem.
The 2-0 goal came quickly. After Hakim Ziyech’s corner kick, the ball was just waiting for Van de Beek. The midfielder, with the help of Fries keeper Warner Hahn, send the ball into the goal.
Mazraoui and Van de Beek
One big setback in the first half was Mazraoui being unable to continue. The goal-scoring player, who had started at midfield, was substituted by Lasse Schöne at the thirty-minute mark. The lively Johan Cruijff ArenA was treated to Ajax’s third goal prior to the break. After a clever ball by Dusan Tadic, Van de Beek scored his second goal of the evening.
The game remained much the same in the second half. Ajax was stronger and put the Fries goal under pressure several times, without success. Unlike last Sunday, Heerenveen was unable to create dangerous counters. This made for a one-sided second half, with Ajax in control.
Heerenveen did manage to score, however. Following Kristensen’s unsuccessful attempt at playing the ball back, Pelle van Amersfoort was able to score the 3-1 goal in the 84th minute. In the 89th minute Sam Lammers had the opportunity to make the game even more exciting. The centre forward, who had scored two goals on Sunday, saw his penalty shot get turned away by Onana.
Thanks tot his win, Ajax will go into the draw for the semi-finals, which take place on Saturday. On Sunday, the next important milestone awaits: the Classic in Rotterdam against Feyenoord.