Ajax loses headliner in Lyon

Ajax loses headliner in Lyon

Ajax’s first team lost the second friendly game of the day against Olympique Lyon.  The French team celebrated a 2-0 win in front of their home crowd, and thus redeemed themselves of the UEFA Europa League semi-final loss from a few months ago.

This wasn’t a very successful dress rehearsal for Ajax.  In one week, the Ajacieds will return to France for the third round preliminary Champions League game against Olympique Lyon.  Of course, there are special circumstances to factor in.  Everyone at Ajax is in a solemn mood because of what has happened to Abdelhak Nouri.  But as cruel as it may feel, football goes on.  Coach Marcel Keizer had hoped to fill up on confidence in Lyon in preparation for the first real game of the season. 

Similarities with first match

The first half of the game was similar to the first friendly between Olympique Lyon and Ajax, in which mainly reserve players and young talents saw action.  Just as earlier on in the day, the hosts took charge in the first half.  In fact, Ajax’s presence barely registered.

Lyon took the lead in the twelfth minute thanks to an own goal by Nick Viergever, who inadvertently sent a good pass from the left past Benjamin van Leer.  It was an unfortunate moment, but after this, Ajax couldn’t complain about how several painful situations in the Amsterdam box unfolded.  Van Leer made great saves on a close-range attempt by Amine Gouiri and a pivoting shot by Memphis Depay.  Also, Nabil Fekir also failed to convert a great opportunity, and struck the crossbar instead.

Ajax limited itself to a pair of dangerous outbreaks, both times via Donny van de Beek.  The midfielder was unable to score from a golden position.

Revival in the second half

After the break, Ajax made a better impression, more in line with what had taken place earlier on in the day, although this wasn’t converted to concrete results on the scoreboard.  Midway through the second half came a phase in which severe pressure was put on Lyon.  This led to several dangerous moments, the most important of which was a long-range shot from Hakim Ziyech.  Keeper Lopes made the save with some difficulty.  Moreover, Ziyech shot once more wide of the Lyon goal and, with Davinson Sanchez who had stormed up, was unable to convert from an opportunistic position.

Soon after, thirteen minutes before time, the deciding goal came.  Lyon broke away on the right side and Gouiri scored from nearby: 2-0.  The French goal was well-deserved.  Prior to Ajax’s good phase, Lyon had had several good opportunities, among which by Clément Grenier, who hit the crossbar for the second time in the match.

In the closing minutes, Ajax came close to scoring twice.  A long-distance shot by Van de Beek disappeared wide of the goal, and Kasper Dolberg  was unable to convert a taylor-made pass from substitute Noa Lang.