Ajax is still looking for its first win of the new year. Away at Feyenoord, Ajax lost 4-2. John Guidetti was the hero in de Kuip. Christian Eriksen and Dmitry Bulykin scored for Ajax.
De Kuip was shaking in its foundations afterwards. The relief at Feyenoord was huge, as the home team defeated Ajax in Rotterdam for the first time in years. Feyenoord’s last home win against Ajax was on February 5, 2006. One week after their 1-1 tie against AZ, Ajax once again failed to secure their first win of 2012, this time in Rotterdam. The defeat in De Kuip means that Feyenoord now has an equal number of points as Ajax.
Leading up to the 57th Klassieker in Rotterdam, Frank de Boer was once again left with a defensive puzzle to solve. The absence of Gregory van der Wiel, Toby Alderweireld, André Ooijer and Nicolai Boilesen was sorely felt on defense. This resulting in a starting spot for Ricardo van Rijn, in the centre of defense. 20 year old Joël Veltman was part of the selection for the first time.
A beautiful goal from the outstanding Christian Eriksen opened the match in the eighteenth minute. The Danish midfielder freed himself up well and his curved shot went behind Feyenoord keeper Erwin Mulder: 0-1. The goal followed a few minutes after Vurnon Anita had also had the opportunity to score the first goal. The right back steamed up ahead, but his attempt failed.
The goal, and Anita’s missed one, represented Ajax’s best opportunities before the break. But it wasn’t Eriksen, but 19 year old John Guidetti, who took centre stage during the first forty five minutes. Feyenoord’s Swedish top scorer, who had recovered just in time from infected tonsils, proved his value to his club no fewer than two times. First, he forced a penalty kick, by going down on Jan Vertonghen’s slide. He made good on his outside opportunity with a razor sharp shot: 1-1. Eleven minutes later, he was in the right place at the right time again, when Jordy Clasie’s free kick landed at his feed. After an apparent sure shot opportunity for Otman Bakkal, the Swede ticked the ball in on the rebound: 2-1.
De Boer: “The first twenty seemed fine. We took a 0-1 lead. After that, we failed to score a second goal. Due to two questionable decisions, we went into the break 2-1 down, but even then I had no idea that so much was going on. We still had forty five minutes to make things right.”
But the chances to catch up decreased dramatically when Feyenoord scored again at the start of the second half. After the third goal, Ajax was playing catch up again. Bakkal has an open opportunity, after which Ajax was down another goal, 3-1, with forty minutes left on the clock. With several offensive substitutions, De Boer tried to decrease the goal deficit. With Davy Klaassen and Nicolás Lodeiro coming in for Eyong Enoh and the injured Miralem Sulejmani (knee locked, MRI scan on Monday), new life was breathed into the Ajax offense. The substitutions didn’t deliver the desired results. “We played at a much lower level in the second half. Especially since, right now, we’re not really in a flow where we can easily rectify it when things go wrong like that.”
It wasn’t until Dmitry Bulykin came in, fifteen minutes before time, that Ajax got a new boost out in front. The tall Russian hunted down Feyenoord keeper Mulder, who wasn’t making many mistakes. He gave the ball to Bulykin, who brought Ajax back into the match. Under the gaze of the surprised Feyenoord keeper, the ball rolled into the goal via Bulykin’s foot: 3-2. Just has he had done earlier this season against PSV in Eindhoven, Ajax’s pinch hitter proved his value when it counted, in an important away game.
The hope for a tying goal was only revived for about three minutes. In the 83rd minute, Guidetti once again stole the show. For the third time that afternoon, the loaned out player from Manchester United scored for his team, sealing Ajax’s fate. De Boer: “Considering the second half, Feyenoord won fair and square. For us, Christian Eriksen was outstanding, but we need more players to be outstanding. Right now, we’re missing the energy to show the opponent that they can’t get through. Let’s hope that we get that back soon.”