Ajax posted a convincing win against Roda JC on Saturday evening. After playing five competition games without a win, Ajax put an end to their dry spell with a resounding 0-4 result. Christian Eriksen had a significant part in this win, with two assists and a goal. Moreover, Ajax kept a clean sheet for the first time in competition play this season.
Ajax’s win was invigorating in several ways. For starters, they finally did win, and kept a clean sheet on top of that. Scoring four goals was also important, both for the team’s confidence and goal balance. Four days before the critical Champions League match against Dinamo Zagreb, part two or Ajax’s series against Roda JC ended up being the perfect warm-up.
“Normally, two consecutive matches against the same opponent are very tricky”, said Frank de Boer afterwards. “If you win the first one, you often don’t win the second. But after Wednesday’s match, I had the feeling that we could win again if we played a bit more smartly. And tonight, we did. We’ve never won with such a big score in Kerkrade. I’m not one who’s satisfied easily, but this is amazing for the group. This win will be a great boost.”
In Kerkrade, De Boer chose for the same plan of attack as he had three days earlier in the cup match against Roda. He thus built on the system with three defenders and four midfielders. The only changes in the line-up were Kenneth Vermeer, returning from a suspension, and Christian Eriksen. The Dane played instead of Dmitry Bulykin, and Siem de Jong was once again centre forward for the occasion.
Ajax made a promising start. Eriksen put his team ahead in the sixth minute after a smooth combination with Theo Janssen. The Danish player made a controlled finish on the attack: 0-1. Ajax hadn’t had the luxury of scoring the opening goal in a long time. Lately, it took a goal against to light a fire under the team, and motivate them to make something happen. They didn’t need a wake-up call this time.
This quick opening goal was followed up appropriately. Eriksen and Janssen took turns taking shots before the break, but the most dangerous moment actually came from Roda. A miscommunication between Jan Vertonghen and Vermeer almost cost the guests a goal. A tricky played back ball caught Ajax’s keeper off guard, but it was Vertonghen himself who prevented Roda centre forward Mads Junker from cashing in on the mistake.
The beginning of the second half was a carbon copy of the first half’s swift start. On a quick Eriksen free kick, Janssen made good: 0-2. The liberating second goal inspired Ajax to go further. Seven minutes after the second goal, Jody Lukoki made his contribution to the score. On a pass from a strong Vurnon Anita, the right winger sent his shot in: 0-3.
With a big lead in their favour, Ajax slowed their pace in the last half hour. This gave De Boer the chance to bring in Lorenzo Ebecilio and Aras Özbiliz. Both forwards were returning to the selection after injuries, and were given the chance to build up some game rhythm with the comfort of a 0-3 lead. This allowed Derk Boerrigter – who scored twice last Wednesday – to get some extra rest leading up to the important game against Dinamo Zagreb.
There were several positive results from this generous, well deserved win. Eriksen even had the opportunity to play centre forward for the last fifteen minutes. And in this role, he made another assist. He put Ebecilio in position to crown his return with a goal, making Ajax’s win even better. And, most likely, the long return journey to Amsterdam, even shorter.