After a series of less successful competition away games, Ajax finally posted a victory once again as guests. They beat SC Heerenveen 2-0 in the Abe Lenstra Stadion. Rommendahl’s and Suarez’s goals lifted Ajax to their win over the Fries team.
Ajax hasn’t managed a win in their last three competition matches outside of Amsterdam. Since their win at Vitesse (1-5), Ajax has given up costly points against FC Utrecht (2-0), NAC Breda and Feyenoord (both 1-1). During the run up to the match in Heerenveen, much was made of Ajax’s mediocre away results, in such sharp contrast to their heavy handed wins at home in the ArenA. Herenveen was on the receiving end of this in November in Amsterdam, as they suffered a 5-1 deficit as early as halftime. “It’s also psychological”, said Jol on Friday.
Martin Jol had to make two changes to his line-up in Friesland. The injured Urby Emanuelson (hamstring) and suspended Jan Vertonghen were absent, after last Sunday’s game against FC Twente. On the other hand, Toby Alderweireld returned, recovered from his own hamstring injury. Dennis Rommendahl took Emanuelson’s place, with Suarez therefore playing left, and the Dane at the right.
The teams were evenly matched before halftime, but Herenveen had the best opportunities. Several times, Vurnon Anita couldn’t keep up with swift forward Roy Beerens. After fifteen minutes, Beerens came close to scoring the opening goal, but Alderweireld blocked the shot at the goal line. Paulo Henrique also kept the Ajax defender busy.
Jol took action during halftime, injecting Ajax with some extra creativity on offense. He substituted the injured Rasmus Lindgren (knee) for Christian Eriksen. The talented Danish player, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday, fresh onto the field, was already able to celebrate the first Ajax goal. His fellow Dane Dennis Rommendahl, scored with a header on a pass from Marko Pantelic (Popov’s error): 0-1. This was Rommendahl’s second goal within a week, after scoring against Twente the previous Sunday.
Rommendahl’s goal came at a key moment. Especially as FC Twente had squeaked past Vitesse with a last minute win (1-2), Ajax needed a win in Herenveen to keep pressure on the league’s number two team.
It took some time before Ajax was home-free. “We let Herenveen stay in the game for longer
than was necessary”, said Jol. Especially since Herenveen player Grimm was sent off the field with a red card fifteen minutes before the end, after charging Rommendahl. It still took until extra time for the second goal to come. Luis Suarez took credit for this one, reacting swiftly to a rebound from a blocked shot from Eriksen, who was in fine form. This marks his 100th goal in official matches with FC Groningen and Ajax. And after 23 rounds of play, he remains one for one. But more importantly: Ajax finally had a much needed away win, and keeps the pressure on Twente and PSV.