On Sunday Siem de Jong ended a brilliant afternoon beautifully. The Amsterdam club won 4-1 against Excelsior, while PSV suffered a serious defeat against Feyenoord. Suddenly, at the end of this Easter Sunday, Ajax holds the key to the title.
The tension is building week by week due to the small differences in the top 3 of the Eredivisie. FC Twente won their match against ADO Den Haag (1-2) on Friday already and could watch the matches between Ajax and Excelsior and PSV and Feyenoord from their deck chairs. Both matches began simultaneously in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Ajax got off to a lightning start in Amsterdam with a quick goal by Lorenzo Ebecilio, who got the ball past goalkeeper Pellatz with a precision shot, after turning down a free kick: 1-0. It was the one hundredth official goal of the season. The fact that it was an opening goal in stead of an equaliser, was all thanks to Kenneth Vermeer, who performed a cat-like save to a header by Gudde, only two minutes previously.
It was a clear indication that Ajax had no intention on shying away on this subtropical afternoon. The fact that Alex Pastoor’s club is in sixteenth place in the Eredivisie meant nothing to Frank de Boer on Friday. He saw a dangerous squad and his players saw the same on Sunday afternoon, because in the 28th minute, Fernandez, who was free, headed a ball that was only just wide of the goal.
Two minutes after that little pin prick by Fernandez, which was to be his last play, as he was substituted in the 34th minute, the ArenA exploded. That had nothing to do with Ajax’ performance on the pitch, but the huge SONY television screens showed images of a cheering Georginio Wijnaldum, who had just put Feyenoord into a 1-0 lead against PSV. A thunderous applause rolled down the Amsterdam stands. Then the eleven Ajax players had to take over again. That didn’t always meet with the fans’ approval, or with their own, because Excelsior kept managing to find the free players quite easily. And so at half time the lead was still minimal. ,,We played uneasily the first ten minutes’’, De Boer concluded. ,,Perhaps that was due to the tension to achieve a good result. But then we pulled ourselves together and after that excellent save by Kenneth Vermeer, we were in control."
During half time De Boer had told his men to lay off the pressure a little and that the three attackers were the ones who should chase up the last line. The retired defender was then seriously irritated when his squad allowed Daan Bovenberg to score the equaliser with a header. ,,That ball was in the air for five minutes. They had plenty of time to get the timing right." Mounir El Hamdaoui had a good opportunity shortly after kick off, to turn the score around again, but his shot went across the goal.
And so the match remained terribly exciting. After the screen showed PSV’s Orlando Engelaar being shown the red card, Ajax had to give it their all the last thirty minutes in order to maintain the advantage of such a positive starting point. But that would take another goal by Wijnaldum in Rotterdam. Shortly after he put Feyenoord back into the lead, a debatable goal was scored in Amsterdam. Van der Wiel was allowed to play on, because the linesman didn’t see he was offside, after which Christian Eriksen kicked the ball over the goal line on the second try. 2-1 with only twenty minutes of play left. ,,Of course it was offside", De Boer admitted. ,,But at that stage we were in control of the match." That was largely thanks to De Zeeuw who substituted brilliantly. The 3-1 scored by the Man of The Match, Ebecilio brought relief. Do Jong’s beautiful bicycle kick was a fantastic finale. To top it all off, Feyenoord won 3-1. ,,With two more matches to go, we hold the key to the championship", the manager concluded. He will be able to add an extra frill to his birthday on 15 May with the national title. ,,Now we only have ourselves to blame if we don’t succeed."