For the first time this season, Ajax is at the top of the Eredivisie rankings. The Amsterdam team defeated PEC Zwolle at home, 3-0, thanks to goals from Sigthórsson, De Jong and Boerrigter. Since PSV lost at sc Heerenveen on Saturday evening, Ajax takes over the top spot from the Eindhoven team.
With the knowledge that the home match against PEC Zwolle was the ultimate opportunity to become the new leader, Frank de Boer started with the same eleven players who had defeated FC Twente last week (0-2). That meant that Lasse Schöne once again took over the role on the right side of the offense. The Dane, with Kolbeinn Sigthórsson and Viktor Fischer, was meant to feed and score.
At two-thirty, Ajax was still the Eredivisie’s number three team. Number three, since Feyenoord had posted a slim win at Roda JC in Kerkrade (0-1). The Rotterdam team thus had a two point lead before the start of Ajax’s match against PEC Zwolle.
Ajax started slowly with the ball, feeling out its opponent, and, since PEC Zwolle didn’t choose to rush the defenders, they were able to calmly play the ball to each other. In this way, they waited for the right moment to go to battle. Viktor Fischer, with an impressive solo in the twelfth minute, tried to open the score, but his attempt bounced against keeper Diederik Boer.
Five minutes later, Siem de Jong saw his attempt turned away by the Zwolle defender, and one minute later, a great attempt by Fischer was extinguished on Sigthórsson’s back. But in the nineteenth minute, Ajax took a well-deserved lead against the waiting PEC Zwolle. A great pass from Schöne reached Sigthórsson, who placed the ball neatly into the far corner, 1-0. His first Eredivisie goal since August 12, 2012, was a done deal. The fans celebrated the goal as though it was championship number 32, which of course it wasn’t.
It was 2-0 for Ajax seven minutes after the opening goal. After Ricardo van Rhijn had sent the ball ahead perfectly and Sigthórsson’s good header was saved by Boer, De Jong was in the right place to score the 2-0 goal. He did get the goalies’ cleats on his knee, but after being treated, he was able to continue. Nothing changed in terms of the lead, although Fischer did come close to scoring Ajax’s third goal.
In the second half, during which Daley Blind was outstanding, Ajax became more eager and drove the PEC players completely crazy. But just like they have done earlier this season, the home team was unable to reward itself for its strong play. Sigthórsson lost the duel in front of Boer’s goal and Eriksen also had a great opportunity in the 53rd minute when he came face to face with the Zwolle keeper. The Dane wasn’t able to raise the score to 3-0.
The singing fans saw De Boer make some changes in the 69th minute. Centre forward Sigthórsson left the stage and Derk Boerrigter, a former Zwolle player, came in. Siem de Jong thus moved up and Schöne moved back one line. Van Rhijn came close to scoring the third goal with a searing shot from the right in the 71st minute, but Boer turned it away. But he didn’t have a chance in the 80th minute. Eriksen had the overview from the left and served Boerrigter, who finished perfectly, 3-0. The fact that the match hadn’t reached a very high level didn’t matter. This Sunday marks the day that Ajax took the lead in the rankings for the first time in the 2012/2013 season, with a one point lead on PSV and Feyenoord. ‘Stand up for the champion’, sang the fanatic supporters, fervently hoping that the next champion will indeed be the same as the last one.
Frank de Boer was satisfied afterwards: “Maybe we played better against ADO and Roda, but the result was worse. I’m happy with how we dominated and created opportunities. We scored three times and could have had two more. That’s also nice for the crowd who came in big numbers through the cold to be in the stadium. But if we keep playing like this, we’ll get results. We still have eight finals to go. Of course number 1 is important, but to me the way we play is more important. That needs to lead to success.”