Ajax has had a good start to the Eredivisie 2014-2015 season. After an even first half, Frank de Boer’s Ajax team broke away from Vitesse in the second half to take the lead. Lasse Schöne, with his two goals, played a big part in the 4-1 victory. Nick Viergever and Mike van der Hoorn also elicited cheers from the Ajax fans.
One week after the lost match for the Johan Cruijff Shield (1-0 defeat at the hands of cup winner PEC Zwolle), title holder Ajax began the new season with a victory at home against Vitesse. It was a meeting with a bitter historic taste. The Arnhem team has bested Ajax in the ArenA for the past two seasons. Two years ago, Ajax had no reply to Wilfried Bony’s two goals: 0-2. Last season, it was Valeri Qazaishvili who scored the last minute goal to bring his team to a 0-1 win over the home team. After the defeat at the hands of PEC Zwolle, Ajax couldn’t allow itself another setback. Fortunately, that bridge was never crossed. The mission, which would pave the way towards a historic fifth straight championship, was accomplished on Sunday.
Compared to the eleven Ajax players who had started against PEC, De Boer had changed his team in one spot. Thulani Serero was accorded the left midfield place, which last week had gone to Lucas Andersen, as it has in the closing friendly match against Benfica. World Cup players Jasper Cillessen, Daley Blind and Joël Veltman returned to the match selection for the Vitesse game. The internationals started off on the bench, and Kenneth Vermeer started again in the goal.
There has been little question of Kenneth Vermeer’s caliber as a keeper recently. Ajax is very lucky to have a (usually) second keeper of his class. The keeper was once again outstanding against Vitesse. The Amsterdam keeper kept his team in the game in several crucial moments of the first half. In the opening minutes, Vermeer came out on top in a one-on-one confrontation with left back Kelvin Leerdam, who had stormed up front. After that, Vermeer was once again a wall for Zakaria Labyad (header) and Qazaishvili (shot).
Ajax could have struck at that point, too. The Amsterdam team opened with a great opportunity for Ricardo Kishna. The wing forward appeared free in front of Piet Velthuizen after a mistake by Guram Kashia – the Georgian simply gave him the ball. The Vitesse goalie came out of that stride as the winner. Velthuizen was beaten by the home team shortly before the break. Viergever brought Ajax into the lead five minutes before the break. The midfielder was served perfectly by right back Ruben Ligeon. The lead ensured that Ajax retreated to the locker room feeling good after the first half.
That good feeling only intensified in the second half. A good free kick by Lasse Schöne was too powerful for Velthuizen: 2-0. The keeper was literally put onto the wrong foot by the shot from 25 meters out. Kishna was in position to help his club to its third goal one minute later, but the Ajax player sent his shot onto the crossbar in the 49th minute. Vitesse seemed to be deflated of their strength and confidence.
They took a while to come, but some more Ajax goals were scored still. Central defender Mike van der Hoorn proved his offensive worth when he sent a hard header from Lasse Schöne’s header into the goal. Ajax had a 3-0 lead in the bag. Marko Vejinovic’s 3-1 goal was simply an esthetic error late in the second half. Especially when Lasse Schöne retaliated by scoring yet another goal. The Danish right winger took full advantage of substitute Anwar El Ghazi’s tailor-made pass in the 87th minute.
Daley Blind’s return was the cherry on the cake for Ajax. The 19 time international was brought in by De Boer shorty before Van der Hoorn’s deciding header. Blind thus played his first minutes of the new season. Veltman and Cillessen watched the entire first match of the 2014-2015 competition from the ArenA’s best field seats. The upcoming North Holland derby against AZ will most likely offer the defender and his keeper another opportunity to make their return to Ajax 1.
“In the end, the duel could just as easily have ended in 7-7”, decided De Boer. ‘Fortunately, it didn’t get that far. Partly because Kenneth Vermeer saved us in those critical moments. Ajax was probably the luckier team today. I’m happy that we started the competition with a win.”
There was thus a lot to see and enjoy on Sunday for the 48.494 spectators in the Amsterdam ArenA. The false start against PEC Zwolle was washed away with a good win against Vitesse. Ajax has made an outstanding star in its latest Eredivisie adventure.