Ajax grabbed three points on Saturday night against FC Groningen in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Coach Erik ten Hag’s team won thanks to goals by Lisandro Martinez and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the final fifteen minutes of the game.
Ajax – FC Groningen shared similarities with the Fortuna Sittard game, which had taken place three days earlier. The reigning national champion had several opportunities in the first half, but didn’t actually score any goals until the second half.
Martínez breaks the stalemate
Ten Hag had given starting spots to Lisandro Martínez, Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui. These last two players had been absent from last Wednesday’s victory against Fortuna Sittard because of injuries.
Martínez, on the bench last Wednesday, scored the opening goal against Groningen with fifteen minutes left on the clock. The Argentinian stormed ahead with the ball at his feet and scored with a long distance shot: 1-0. FC Groningen were down to 10 men due to a red card (2 yellows) for former Ajacied Django Warmerdam.
Huntelaar scores liberating 2-0
Just three minutes later, substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar locked the game up. The veteran striker was sent a tailor-made pass from Donny van de Beek, and doubled the lead with a simple shot: 2-0. Ajax played out the remainder of the game with ease, but stopped short of scoring a third. Huntelaar had the biggest opportunity to do that, but Sergio Padt was there to stop him.
The focus now shifts fully to the UEFA Champions League game at Valencia on Wednesday.