Ajax has become the Dutch champion! The team secured its thirtieth national title in club history on the Eredivisie’s closing day with a 3-1 win at home against FC Twente. After Siem de Jong’s two goals, and Denny Landzaat scoring an own goal, celebrations broke out in the ArenA. Ajax will proudly wear three gold stars next season.
Ajax played its second ‘final’- after the first cup final – against FC Twente in a fully sold out and pleasant Amsterdam ArenA. The 51.711 spectators made it an unforgettable afternoon. Fireworks and performances by artists such as Ben Saunders and Lenny Keylard completed the picture.
Various scenarios for a great victory party were tweaked up until 2.30p.m. The Eredivisie’s last game had coloured the past week – or was it weeks? But finally, at kick off, it was the Ajax players’ turn to have their say. The only question to be answered was whether they would capture their thirtieth national title and third star by the end of the afternoon. Would Ajax, after two defeats (Johan Cruijff Plate and KNVB Cup final), plus an undecided match in the Grolsch Veste, be able to defeat the ‘Tukkers’?
On his 41st birthday, Ajax coach Frank de Boer started the same players as in last week’s cup final. Mounir El Hamdaoui wasn’t fit enough to be part of the match line up. Twente coach Michel Preud’homme made two changes in the ArenA. Keeper Nikolay Mihaylov took his place once again between the posts, and Roberto Rosales took over the right back position opposite Lorenzo Ebecilio.
Siem de Jong set Ajax on the right track after 23 minutes. The centre forward was served up with a high pass from the right from Gregory van der Wiel. De Jong was able to shoot in with his left foot, and Mihaylov was left without a chance: 1-0. After the opening goal, there was no shortage of excitement during this championship match. Landzaat came within a few centimetres of putting Nacer Chadli’s pass past Kenneth Vermeer. Right before the break, Landzaat again lifted the ball beautifully over the Ajax keeper, but fortunately wide of the goal.
The teeth were bared right before and after the break. Especially right after half time, the ArenA was a rollercoaster of emotions, with the tensest moments resonating through the stadium. One minute after the break, Landzaat send his header, from Van der Wiel’s pass, gracefully into his own goal (2-0). Sixty seconds later, Theo Janssen, on a Luuk de Jong pass, brought the score to 2-1. The midfielder’s goal was reminiscent of Janssen’s goal in the cup final. At that time, the Twente natives fought back from a 2-0 deficit to capture the KNVB Cup with a 3-2 win. In the Kuip in Rotterdam, things went sour for Ajax during extra time. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case in the Amsterdam ArenA.
The second half was marked mostly by loss of possession by both teams, but that will undoubtedly be forgotten. The excitement made up for a lot. The narrow lead made this Ajax – FC Twente match in the Eredivisie’s 34th round of the 2010-2011 season, absolutely captivating; a duel worthy of a true thriller. In fact, this was the first time that the two strongest teams from the Eredivisie faced each other in the final round of play.
Twelve minutes before the end, Siem de Jong struck again with a spot-on shot. Ajax’s number 10 was beautifully set up by a Christian Eriksen cross pass. After the 3-1 was scored, the Arena exploded into a mass of celebrating fans. At 4.22p.m. the Ajax party reached its climax as referee Pieter Vink blew the final whistle. As the Ajax players hoisted the plate at 4.35p.m., the party could officially get started with the supporters.
The championship banner was hoisted by the Ajax players towards the Arena corner shortly after the celebration. Gold coloured balls from Ajax’s head sponsor AEGON disappeared into the crowd afterwards. After the round of honour, the Ajax players headed to the public celebration at Museumplein. The party in honour of their thirtieth national title in the club’s rich history will go on into the small hours. The two stars on the Ajax jersey are a thing of the past. The new age of three gold stars is upon us. Finally.
Later today on Ajax TV and Ajax.nl, watch many more reports and interviews surrounding Ajax’s thirtieth national title!