Ajax has ended the season in style. Dressed in its latest away kit, freshly minted champion Ajax defeated FC Groningen 0-2. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and substitute Danny Hoesen scored the goals in the Euroborg. “We did well”, concluded a satisfied Frank de Boer.
There was nothing at stake for the guests in this away match in the always lively Euroborg. One week after the 32nd national title had been secured, Ajax was only playing for glory. On Wednesday a short, intensive period of celebrations and well-deserved enjoyment was in effect closed with a training session for the brand new national champion. Frank de Boer’s team was obligated to end the 2012-2013 championship year in style. In terms of attire, the Ajax players were very well turned out in Groningen. The Amsterdam team traditionally wear the new away jersey for the last (away) match of the season.
De Boer went with most of the familiar faces from the championship season in his starting line-up. Only Jasper Cillessen, Ryan Babel and Derk Boerrigter were notable. Cillessen enjoyed his reward for his important role as second keeper. Wingers Babel and Boerrigter were equally rewarded for their services this season. Christian Poulsen replaced Lasse Schone, who wasn’t completely fit, at midfield. The oldest Dane’s spot in the Ajax selection can also be regarded as a reward. These Ajax players were often relegated to the bench, but this season, they were always ready to go when they were called upon.
“After such a festive week, you always need to wait and see how the group will anticipate the last match” , said De Boer in retrospect. “We played a concentrated game. The play was good at times. We closed the season in a fitting way. I’m happy with that. I’m also happy for the 1100 Ajax fans who made the trip for their support from the visitors’ stands for the full ninety minutes.”
FC Groningen weren’t only playing for honour. The northern team were striving for a spot in European football play-offs – a mission they ended up succeeding in. Michael de Leeuw came close to scoring the opening goal in the beginning of the game. The Groningen player shot the ball over, right in front of Cillessen. This was a wake-up call for the guests.
Ajax’s first goal came after only five minutes. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson easily slid the ball past the keeper, former Ajax player Marco Bizot. With this, the Icelandic centre forward gratefully took advantage of a beautiful pass from Daley Blind. The left back completed a perfect season on Sunday in familiar territory. Just like his team mate Siem de Jong, Blind – who had once been loaned out to FC Groningen for half a season – was present for all 34 Eredivisie matches. Captain De Jong was in the squad for all 34 games in a row – not an insignificant achievement. Blind substituted twice this season.
Ajax finished its last job with relative ease. With substitutes Thulani Serero (for De Jong), Stefano Denswil (Niklas Moisander) and Danny Hoesen (Babel) the champions had no problems after the break. Playing frankly and freely (and liberated from all of the pressure?), the black-clad Ajax players passed the ball around nimbly. Hoesen’s goal had a little something extra. The forward had only been on the field for four minutes when he closed a short dribble with a spot-on shot: 0-2. The second Ajax goal of the afternoon was pure centre-forward class.
So at Sunday, Ajax’s championship year ended at 4:16pm. The Ajax players ended the season in style with a 0-2 victory. The focus can now shift to the new season’s opener, the stride for the Johan Cruijff Plate against AZ. But first, a football holiday!