Ajax has failed to turn up the heat on PSV. In the midday match against ADO Den Haag the Ajacieds didn’t get past nil-nil. Dani de Wit made his debut.
Manager Erik ten Hag couldn’t stick to his preferred first eleven for the home game against ADO Den Haag. Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Lasse Schöne dropped out with injuries. Ten Hag replaced these experienced players with youngster Carel Eiting and veteran Siem de Jong. And a new face took place on the bench: De Wit joined Ajax 1 for the first time.
Ajax’ match began before that of PSV in this round and a victory would put them only 2 points behind the frontrunner, significantly increasing the pressure on PSV.
Abundance perfect passes Ziyech
Hakim Ziyech took Ajax by the hand straight from kick-off. The playmaker gave an abundance of perfect passes to David Neres and Justin Kluivert. These passes were unsuccessful in the first half, because all Ajax achieved in the opening stage were shots on goal by Kluivert and Tagliafico. ADO locked down, unsettling Ajax somewhat.
Fat in the fire
Some 10 minutes before halftime the fat was suddenly in the fire along the touchline. Van Boekel called a foul by Tagliafico and immediately ADO protested, causing Onana to come sprinting out of his goal. This led the referee to pull out the yellow card 3 times. Tagliafico for committing the foul and Onana and Trevor David for picking a fight.
Moments before the incident Ziyech had enabled Siem de Jong to position himself unmarked in front of Zwinkels. But the striker for the day fell short and failed to extend the pass successfully. The score remained nil-nil at halftime and the fireworks would have to wait until the second half.
For the 10th time this season Ajax faced the challenge of putting a score on the board after halftime. Only 2 times previously did Ajax fail to win the match after an entire first half with no goals. For the Amsterdam squad this seemed hopeful. In the 50th minute they almost scored. Frenkie de Jong ran on brilliantly after a through pass by Ziyech, but his header missed the goal by inches.
Ajax found it increasingly difficult to find an opening in ADO’s tight defence, which entrenched itself further, but from time to time broke out dangerously. After an hour of play, though, ADO seemed tired and Ajax appeared to have found their Achilles’ heel. Siem de Jong’s header into the post, Ziyech’s curved shot that only just went wide and a fierce shot by Frenkie de Jong all brought the Amsterdammers closer to scoring a goal.
The ball just wouldn’t go in
In the final stage of the match Mateo Cassierra was given the opportunity to break the spell by replacing Siem de Jong. And with only 6 minutes to go De Wit debuted in Ajax 1 as the replacement for Eiting. Amin Younes substituted for Kluivert.
It was now or never, or else PSV would be able to kick off the top match against Feyenoord in De Kuip without a care in the world. In injury time Ajax came incredibly close, but the ball just wouldn’t go in. Ajax squandered 2 crucial points in the race for the national championship.