Ajax won the Classic on Sunday by a big margin. The Ajacieds won by 4-1 in de Kuip in Rotterdam. After a scoreless 1st half, things accelerated in the second half. The Amsterdam team's goals were scored by Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Kasper Dolberg (2) and Siem de Jong. With 3 assists, David Neres played a key role in the game.
Although the score would indicate otherwise, it was far from a worry-free afternoon for Ajax. Prior to Jens Toornstra’s tying goal, Andre Onana stopped Nicolai Jørgensen’s free kick. Thanks to this win, Ajax remains hot on the trail of PSV, who defeated Heracles Almelo earlier in the afternoon. The point difference remains 5.
Ajax has won its last two games by 4-0: away at sc Heerenveen, and at home against Sparta, so there was no incentive for Marcel Keizer to make any changes. Not only the match selection, but also the squad was identical to what it had been 8 days ago against Sparta.
Huntelaar was once again Ajax’s centre forward. The striker was responsible for the game’s opening shot. His low shot lacked power and speed, and thus caused keeper Brad Jones no problems.
Fouls and yellow cards
This was not a build-up to a spectacular first half. A beautiful play by Neres, who outwitted his direct opponent Haps at the back line, was an exception. Both teams grossly lost possession repeatedly. Fouls and yellow cards came in overload, but opportunities did not.
Ajax and Feyenoord actually both had one good opportunity before halftime. The first was for Ajax. Amin Younes was freed up on the left side of the penalty kick area, and he escaped, free. But keeper Jones was able to rebuke the attempt. Five minutes before the break, Feyenoord showed its face. A free kick by Toornstra was extended by Nicolai Jørgensen, but Onana made a feline save. It was the Cameroonian keeper’s first real test.
Match blows wide open after the break
The second half brought more fireworks. The match was on fire. In the 49th minute, Ajax silenced de Kuip with a beautiful goal. Neres passed to Huntelaar, who was able to take advantage of the good prep work. His shot landed beautifully into the far upper corner: 0-1.
Ajax didn’t get to enjoy the lead for very long, although they did get one reprieve. In the 57th minute, the ball was placed on the spot after a De Ligt foul on Haps. Onana then stopped Jørgensen’s penalty kick, but moments later, found himself fishing the ball out of his goal. After De Ligt’s unnecessary loss of possession in the buildup, the ball ended up with Toornstra, who, just like Huntelaar had, fired it into the upper corner.
Ajax floundered for a short while and should count itself lucky that it didn’t go into a defecit. Jørgensen got a big chance, but Onana stopped the Dane’s attempt again. Later on, Tony Vilhena hit the outside of the post with a hard shot.
Explosive final minutes
As a 2nd goal against failed to materialize, Ajax had the chance to set things right. Which it did. Twenty minutes before the end, Ajax took charge once again. Yet again, Neres played a starring role. The Brazilian was driven into a tough corner, but found the sparky Dolberg. The Dane, who had just come in as a substitute, knew exactly what to do with Neres’ excellent prep work and scored right off the bat: 1-2.
The same formula – a combination between Neres and Dolberg – almost led to the game being decided. This time, Dolberg was unable to pull the trigger. But Neres’ third assist came eventually, and yet another substitute player was able to cash in. Siem de Jong, who, like Dolberg, had come onto the field just moments before scoring, beat Jones: 1-3.
Dolberg scored his 2nd goal of the afternoon after that, making the Amsterdam celebration complete.