Ajax secures spot in Champions League qualifying rounds after defeating AZ

Ajax secures spot in Champions League qualifying rounds after defeating AZ

In the last home game of the season, Ajax defeated AZ and secured 2nd spot in the rankings as well as a spot in the Champions League qualifying rounds.  Ajax won 3-0 thanks to goals by Donny van de Beek, Justin Kluivert and David Neres.

Ajax grabbed this win without captain Joël Veltman, who got badly injured during the mid-week duel against VVV-Venlo, and won’t be able to play until the fall.  Noussair Mazraoui replaced him at right back and Matthijs de Ligt wore the captain’s band.  Nico Tagliafico was back on the squad after a suspension.

Entertaining opening phase
The opening phase of the North Holland derby was very entertaining.  After 20 seconds, Justin Kluivert gained control of a crossball, but his cross-pass to Donny van de Beek disappeared over the back line due to the Alkmaar team’s resistance.  AZ was on the ball and transitioned quickly.  It was Kluivert who disarmed the attack.

Van de Beek opens the score
In the next fifteen minutes, Neres, Hakim Ziyech and Van de Beek had opportunities to score the opening goal, but it wasn’t until the 38th minute that the first goal came. Just prior to the impressive tribute to Abdelhak Nouri (34th minute), his friend, Donny van de Beek, scored.

Ajax sitting pretty
Four minutes after play resumed, Kluivert sent his 9th goal of the season against the ropes.  The cross-ball came from Ziyech, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made the pass, and the fierce shot came from the left winger: 2-0.  Ajax was sitting pretty against the hard-nosed AZ’ers.  Three minutes later, the ball almost rolled into the goal after an attempt by Kluivert.  Neres seemed poised to send Ajax’s 3rd goal past Bizot, but he appeared to be offside at Ziyech’s first shot.  So no go.

Best goal belongs to Neres
Ajax then fell back somewhat, and AZ had some opportunities.  In the 70th minute, Onana had to exert himself for the first time when faced with a shot from substitute Ilias Bel Hassani, and not even one minute later, he had the good fortune that a strong shot by Mats Seuntjes disappeared just a fraction over his crossbar.

But the best was saved for last.  Neres scored a stunning goal 3 minutes before time.  Thanks to this win, Ajax will remain in 2nd place and thus earns a spot for the Champions League qualifying round.  Next week, the season ends with a game at Excelsior.