Ajax goes down in KNVB Cup game after penalty kicks

Ajax goes down in KNVB Cup game after penalty kicks

Ajax was eliminated from the KNVB Cup on Wednesday evening.  Marcel Keizer’s team lost at FC Twente after penalty kicks.  Justin Kluivert scored a beautiful opening goal and appeared to have scored the match winner.  Oussama Assaidi tied the game and forced overtime (1-1), during which no goals were scored. 

After 10 penalty kicks, the score was 4-4.  Adnane Tighadouini missed his first, but, 3 shots later, Hakim Ziyech did so, too.  At 5-5, Twente kept a cool head, something Matthijs de Ligt was unable to do.

Visiting the Grolsch Veste once again
It was Ajax’s second visit to Enschede in two and a half weeks.  At the start of December, Ajax left valuable points on the table after playing to a 3-3 draw.  In that game, the Ajacieds dominated the first half, but the home team fought its way back in the second half.

Ajax opens the score
Just like the game in early December, Ajax had nothing to fear from the opponent in the first half.  De Ligt created the first dangerous opportunity for the Amsterdam team, but his beautiful long-distance shot was turned away by keeper Joël Drommel.

After 18 minutes, the goalie was unable to repeat the feat against a hard shot from outside the penalty area.  Kluivert came in from the left and deposited the ball beautifully into the far upper corner: 0-1.

Strong Kluivert on the left side
It was a well-earned lead for Ajax, who had been coming up on the left side frequently.  Defeating his direct opponent, Hidde te Avest, was child’s play for Kluivert.  On a pass from Ajax’s left winger, Kasper Dolberg had an opportunity, but the striker’s shot didn’t faze keeper Drommel.

In the second  half, the match was more evenly balanced, due in part to Ajax’s increased sloppiness.  Once again, it was Kluivert who created the most danger.  The Amsterdammer seemed poised to score an identical goal to his first, but this time his curving shot ended up wide of the Twente goal.

Tricky situation
The lead remained only one goal, which created a tricky situation.  Twente came on stronger and had more opportunities.  Tom Boere saw his header stopped by Andre Onana, while Fredrik Jensen sent a shot over the goal from a good position.

But three times was the charm for Twente.  After David Neres had failed to decide the game, Aissadi tied up the game in extra time.  Via Joël Veltman’s head, his long distance shot ended up in the Ajax goal.

Drommel was the star of overtime.  The goalie made a feline save on a Neres shot in the 105th minute, and helped his team at the halfway mark of overtime by turning away a Ziyech free kick, as well as the resulting rebound attempt by Klaas Jan Huntelaar.  When Siem de Jong missed an open opportunity, a penalty shot series became inevitable.  And, for the Amsterdam, team, a few missed shots turned out to be fatal.