On Sunday afternoon, Ajax posted a simple victory at ADO Den Haag. Thanks to goals by Klaassen, Fischer, Van Rhijn and Bojan, Frank de Boer’s 100th Eredivisie match as Ajax’s head coach ended with a convincing 0-4 win. Ajax continued on the right path after its spectacular win against FC Barcelona.
After the sensational 2-1 defeat of FC Barcelona, Frank de Boer naturally didn’t want to make any changes to a winning team. But Nicolai Boilesen’s injury forced the Ajax coach to make some alterations. Daley Blind’s position was extra interesting. Would he play at midfield again, or would he return to his familiar spot as left back? De Boer started the Ajax player in the position in which Blind had had the most impact against Barcelona, at central midfield. Lerin Duarte was the surprise among the eleven starting Ajax players. He played at left back. “Lerin had never played there, but I think he can do well as a left back. Moreover, I didn’t want to make any changes at midfield”, was De Boer’s matter-of- fact explanation of his decision. The choice to play Duarte at left back came about on Tuesday evening, after the Ajax – Barcelona euphoria. De Boer: “In a conversation with my brother Ronald, he suggested to play Duarte at left back. That’s how the idea was born.”
Stefano Denswil started as central defender and thus kept Niklas Moisander out of the squad. Bojan Krkic returned to the match selection in The Hague. The loaned-out Barça player had been having a difficult time since he got injured at the home match against Go Ahead Eagles. Midway through the second half, Bojan made his return. The Spanish Ajax player is fit just in time for the critical match against his former club AC Milan, where continuing in the Champions League is at stake. Moisander only saw action in the closing minutes. His 150th Eredivisie performance was a short one.
Ajax opened strong in the Kyocera Stadium. After Viktor Fischer had seemed poised to cleverly send the ball into the goal (but sent it long instead), Davy Klaassen opened the score after ten minutes. Viktor Fischer and Thulani Serero’s preparation work – the South African was able to send a header to Klaassen – was invaluable. Klaassen showed his cool killer instinct by sending the ball calmly over Gino Coutinho: 0-1. Ajax had thus earned the early lead they desired. The Amsterdam team kept control in the match, thanks in part to the strong performance of controller and captain Blind.
Ajax was able to double its lead ten minutes before halftime. After Klaassen (another outstanding player in De Boer’s team) and Lerin Duarte had jointly prepared the play, Fischer was the one to finish this time. The Danish forward shot hard and spot-on: 0-2. It was, as Boilesen had twittered during the match: bam! by his fellow Dane Fischer. Jasper Cillessen also made several worthy contributions in de Residentie. The Groesbeek native was able to turn away a sharp header from former Ajax player Vito Wormgeer. Later, Cillessen showed the same class at an attempt by Michiel Kramer. Thus, halfway through the match and the afternoon in general, not a cloud in the sky for the Amsterdam team.
After the goals by Klaassen and Fischer, it became sorely apparent how much the support of Ajax fans was missed. Celebrating a goal without fans that had come along is simply much less fun. You can’t celebrate goals in a quiet stadium. The message from the fans who had wished the Ajax players good luck that morning in the players’ bus as it left the ArenA was a cry from the heart: just like players and members of staff, the fans hope to be in attendance in The Hague next year. ‘Without fans, No Football’, was the message seen on a banner from ADO supporters. That was exactly how it was.
Ricardo van Rhijn’s goal was also celebrated in relative quiet. The right back enjoyed his success from a distance, watching his attempt become a goal thanks to a weak Coutinho’s glove: 0-3. The Ajax players were thus completely on course to even a record score for an away game against ADO. On August 13, 1989, in the old Zuiderpark, Ajax won 0-4. Aron Winter, Pál Fischer, Jan Wouters and Ronald de Boer all scored to help the visitors set a record that day. Bojan gave his return extra panache by scoring in the closing minutes after a combination with Danny Hoesen. So Ajax re-wrote history five days after the unforgettable win at home against Barcelona.
De Boer: “As a staff, we can be very pleased with this win. The players brought everything that they did to the last match. That’s a big plus and that’s how it should be. I hope that the players realize that. We played well and showed good short combinations. ADO was dangerous twice in standard situations, but Jasper Cillessen showed he’s a good keeper. I’m a satisfied coach.”