Ajax’s postponed match against NAC Breda just delivered them one lone point. The first half of the season ended with a 1-1 tie in Breda. The aftertaste of the tie was made even more bitter, as league leader FC Twente also left points on the table in Utrecht. The only bright spot was Christian Eriksen’s official debut.
Whether or not Ajax was able to make progress during the training camp in Portugal remained to be seen on Sunday afternoon. “We’ll have to wait and see. With these things, only time can tell”, said Jol on Tuesday night, shortly before the team’s departure. After the 1-1 tie with NAC, the answer was obviously not favourable for Ajax. “Everyone at NAC is satisfied with the result, but we aren’t. That’s the difference”, was the Ajax coach’s clear answer.
NAC ruled the first half hour. With their trademark passionate and aggressive battle style, the home team, who had spent their winter break in Spain, dominated Ajax for the first half hour. They took a 1-0 lead during this time, thanks to Ellery Cairo’s scrappy goal. After 19 minutes, the NAC forward made good on the third try, after Maarten Stekelenburg had stopped two previous attacks. By the third time, Ajax’s keeper had no reply.
Once the Breda storm had calmed somewhat, Rasmus Lindgren – playing his first minutes of the season in Ajax 1 – sent a header into the goal after 37 minutes. From Emanuelson’s corner kick, the Swede placed in the ball past keeper Ten Rouwelaar: 1-1.
In addition to starting Lindgren, Jol had another surprise in store against the Eredivisie’s eighth placed team in the sold out Rat Verlegh Stadium. Ajax’s coach started Christian Eriksen. Not only was the 17 year old Danish player part of the squad, but he was included in the starting line-up for his first official debut with Ajax 1. As a reward for his strong training week in Portugal, the Dane, only eight days after his debut against the Ajax amateurs, made his start. Exactly one year after arriving as a B-junior to Ajax, he made his step with lightning speed into the starting team.
Six minutes before the end, Siem de Jong came in for the rookie. Earlier in the second half, Ajax did their best, but a second goal wasn’t in the cards. Suarez and De Zeeuw (who earned a second yellow card, and therefore a suspension against the upcoming match against AZ) had the best opportunities, but either accuracy or luck seemed to be missing every time. “Based on the second half, we could have won”, said a disappointed Jol. “We were resilient, which is positive.” But despite Ajax’s resilience, they walked away with only one point. Since League leader FC Twente only managed a scoreless tie in their game, Ajax remains nine points behind.