After a shaky start to the season against PSV (Johan Cruijff Plate) and AZ, Ajax posted a surprisingly simple win on Sunday while visiting NEC. With six goals, this win, in the first away match of the season, qualified as a thrashing. Tobias Sana, with two goals, was one of the key players.
Ajax has rarely met such an easy opponent as they did on Sunday afternoon with NEC. In the boiling hot Gofferstadion, the Nijmegen team didn’t offer much resistance to their counterparts from Amsterdam. Were coach Alex Pastoor’s men – who just last week were much too strong for Marco van Basten’s sc Heerenveen – having a hard time with the heat? Whatever the reason was, Ajax took a 0-3 lead within twenty minutes. After that, this second round meeting in the Eredivisie’s 2012-2013 season was just about played out.
There was nothing wrong with the quality of the Ajax goals in Nijmegen. Right winger Jody Lukoki ‘easily’ opened the score with a shot into the near corner; the subsequent goals by Christian Eriksen and Tobias Sana were nothing short of stunning. After fifteen minutes, Eriksen capitalized on mistakes in the NEC defence (after Kenneth Vermeer kicked the ball out), after which he outplayed keeper Gabor Babos beautifully. Sana showed his class with a great lob:0-3. After twenty minutes, the match was decided.
Frank de Boer’s starting line-up didn’t only allow Tobias Sana to showcase his value as left back. In Nijmegen, the Ajax coach also bestowed his trust in Mitchell Dijks (competition debut as left back) and Theo Janssen. The regular had been a reserve earlier, but this time played at left midfield for the Amsterdam team. After Vurnon Anita’s departure mid last week, Lasse Schöne took over the role of controlling midfielder. As opposed to previous matches, Daley Blind and Kolbeinn Sigthórsson started on the bench. The Icelander was thus spared after a busy period.
Before the first half was over, Ajax struck again. And once again, the ease with which Ajax scored was noticeable. Janssen was allowed to come up undisturbed and take a shot from far out, after which Babos misjudged the shot after it deflected midway: 0-4. In the scorching Goffertstadion, that was the score at halftime.
“If you’re 4-0 ahead after forty minutes, you can sit back a bit’, said Frank de Boer with satisfaction. “We made optimal use of our own strength. And we therefore also made use of NEC’s weaknesses.”
It’s likely that the NEC home crowd got more pleasure from the refreshments they had enjoyed during the break than what NEC actually showed after the break. Siem de Jong’s 5-0 was induced by a comical moment from the home team. Michel Breuer saw his fierce shot after 53 minutes sail past Babos via Siem de Jong.
In the same minute that Blind and Derk Boerrigter came in as substitutes (for Ricardo van Rhijn and Lukoki), the Gelderland team fought back. Substitute Bram Nuytinck directly punished a moment of carelessness in the Ajax defence: 1-5. This brought De Boer to a scathing speech to his players during a drink break. The Ajax coach couldn’t swallow that his players had given a goal away so easily, regardless of their big lead.
In Joel Veltman, De Boer had one more rookie up his sleeve. Although Dijk’s competition debut was a ‘half’ debut (Dijks had
already made his official debut against PSV), Veltman did play his very first minutes in an official duel for the first team. The
defender saw, to his pleasure, that Sana scored one last goal in the closing minutes. De Jong’s pass gave the Ajax Swede a
chance he just couldn’t miss: 1-6.
“We’re on the right path, but we need to show that every week”, said De Boer.