Convincing results weren’t in store for Ajax in their home match against VVV Venlo. This wasn’t a generous win. Ajax had plenty of opportunities, but was unable to make good and reward itself with extra goals. One goal from Mounir El Hamdaoui gave Ajax the win: 1-0.
Ajax sponsor BDO warmed up the crowd in Amsterdam prior to kick-off with a mini football quiz. “What was the score of Ajax – VVV in the 2009-2010 season?” was the question posed by the accounting firm via the boarding to the fans. The answer followed quickly: ‘7-0 (3x Suarez)’. The 2010-2011 edition of Ajax – VVV also featured the man responsible for a hat trick against the Venlo natives. This was also the case with the home duel. The same season saw Suarez score four times in Venlo.
But even without Suarez, who moved to Liverpool FC in January, Ajax managed just fine against VVV. However, Ajax weren’t completely without the Uruguayan for this match. Together with his partner and daughter Delfina, Suarez watched the home game from the management box. From the row of honour, the former Ajax player – who was in the ArenA to bid farewell to Ajax – watched his former club score only one goal, courtesy of Mounir El Hamdaoui early on. Lorenzo Ebecilio did the essential preparation, by passing the ball to the running El Hamadoui. Two contacts later, VVV-keeper Kevin Begois was out of position and Ajax’s number 9 shot straight into the goal: 1-0.
The early first goal, which came in the eleventh minute, seemed to signal a repeat of the score that Ajax realised a year ago. Frank de Boer’s team had no shortage of chances to decide the match before the break. Ebecilio was often involved, either in the preparation or taking the shot. The young left winger was pressing for his first goal in Ajax 1, without losing sight of his team mates. Daley Blind watched from the bench. The defender was allowed to rest after playing every match since December. Vurnon Anita took charge of the left back position.
Four minutes after the 1-0, Ebecilio saw his shot intercepted, after which Begois was able to pick the ball from the air. The self-taught Ajax player could have crowned his strong performance with a goal. A few minutes later, El Hamdaoui seemed poised to double Ajax’s score. The forward pushed the ball in front from the left side. Right winger Miralem Sulejmani involved himself in the mix. After a one – two with Ebecilio, the Serb got the ball in front, but no Ajax player was close enough to put the ball into the empty goal.
“After Anderlecht, you hope to show the same spirit”, said De Boer during the press conference afterwards. The first half wasn’t great, although I think we probably had about 75 per cent possession. The gap should have been bigger.”
After the break, the Ajax players still weren’t sharp enough to decide the match effectively. Wil Boessen’s formation (he has replaced Jan van Dijk since the end of the winter break) kept hoping for a tie thanks to Ajax’s missed opportunities. With Aras Özbiliz coming in for Sulejmani in the last fifteen minutes,and Demy de Zeeuw for El Hamdaoui, Ajax didn’t manage to score, even after the red card (2x yellow) for VVV player Ken Leemans. But the 1-0 win is enough for Ajax to stay in the race for the title. A slim victory which yielded the full reward.
“It was a shame for the crowd, and for Luis”, said De Boer, who blamed his team for the slow pace of the match, among other things. “You’d hope to send off Suarez with a match with more goals. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a glorious goodbye. We should forget about this match as soon as possible. And look forward to Anderlecht.”
Suarez’s spectacular farewell, after the match, made the cold afternoon more bearable. Luis’ smile was there once again. A fantastic, glorious goodbye, made even sweeter with the knowledge that FC Twente has wasted points against NEC (1-1), and ten thousand Ajax fans made their way home with a warm feeling in the cold afternoon.
Keep watching Ajax TV for reactions afterwards and an extensive summary of Ajax – VVV.