Ajax has suffered its first competition loss of the season. Vitesse was too strong in the Amsterdam ArenA, winning 0-2. Wilfried Bony was the author of Ajax’s misfortune, scoring both times. This loss caused Ajax to squander precious points for the seventh time in eleven competition games.
“Let’s hope that we have the last laugh tomorrow”, said Frank de Boer on the eve of the match and in anticipation of meeting up with Theo Janssen again. But things went very differently. The Arnhem club had the upper hand at the reigning national champion’s home base.
Although it was only Vitesse’s fourth win in Amsterdam, Saturday’s result spoke volumes about the current division of power at the top – and about Vitesse’s strength at away games (six wins in a row). Vitesse posted its first win in the Amsterdam ArenA since 2001. And this win came right at a time when Ajax desperately needed a win against a direct competitor. Instead of neutralizing the difference, they let it increase to six points. Moreover, the loss put an end to Ajax’s unbeaten streak at home of thirteen games. “We knew that the first loss was getting closer after such a long streak. But it always happens at an unfortunate moment, and that’s certainly the case now.”
Three days after his official debut in the cup match against ONS Sneek, Stefano Denswil appeared again at kick-off against Vitesse. The 19 year old central defender was replacing the suspended Niklas Moisander. Otherwise, De Boer went with the trusted faces from the last few weeks, with Christian Eriksen as ‘fake’ centre forward and Siem de Jong at midfield. In addition to Moisander, Miralem Sulejmani also watched the game from the sold-out ArenA stands. The Serbian player relinquished his spot in the match selection for Danish player Lucas Andersen (18) to make his debut. De Boer felt that the young player was ready to be part of the match 18 according.
De Jong had the best opportunities for Ajax in the first half. He appeared in front of Velthuizen’s goal twice, but both attempts were stopped by the Vitesse keeper. “If a shot like that goes in right away, it becomes a completely different match. But that’s easy to say afterwards. Perhaps missing those goals was inherent to how the match unfolded. We were too easy-going at the start of the match and had too little aggression and rhythm in our game. Because of that, we had too few opportunities.”
On the other hand, the visitors were very effective with their opportunities. The first attempt after 38 minutes was rewarded with an immediate goal. And it was none other than Wilfried Bony who scored the goal. The Ivory Coast native had ten goals in eleven games beforehand. And he continued in the same vein effortlessly against Ajax. On a pass from Gaël Katuka, the Ivory Coast native shot the ball in simply: 0-1. De Boer: “Of course, Bony was amazing, but we gave it away much too easily at that moment. That first goal really came out of the blue.”
Right after the break, Bony dealt Ajax another blow. The African powerhouse set up the attack himself and send a flawless header, on a pass from Renato Ibarra, into the goal. Once again, he had free reign to harm Ajax.
Fortunately for Ajax, the damaged was contained to 0-2. It could have gone otherwise, as John Reis (save by Vermeer) and Marco van Ginkel (header against the post)both came close to scoring another goal for Arnhem within the second half’s first fifteen minutes. The deficit would have been almost impossible to recover from. But Ajax was barely able to pose any threat to Vitesse after the break. Attempts from Daley Blind (shot) and Toby Alderweireld (header) missed the power and venom to bring Ajax back into the race. The numbers on the scoreboard told the full story of the evening: Bony 0-1 and Bony 0-2. Ajax had no reply.