On Saturday evening, Ajax won its home game against Excelsior with relative ease. Erik ten Hag’s team celebrated a 6-2 win in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Klaas Jan Huntelaar (3), Dusan Tadic (2) and Kasper Dolberg scored the goals for Ajax.
One black mark on the evening was Frenkie de Jong’s early exit; he was replaced by Jurgen Ekkelenkamp after only 24 minutes. The big question is what consequence will this have on the important game against Juventus on Tuesday. “I can’t really say much right now”, said Ten Hag after the game. “It was his hamstring acting up, and we didn’t want to take any risks. We need to see how it goes in the next few days.”
Many goals once again
This was Ajax’s second big win against Excelsior this season. In November, the first match at Excelsior ended at 1-7 in Woudestein. Thanks to that win, Ajax had increased its lead on PSV to 3 points, and its goal balance had grown. The Eindhoven team will play against De Graafschap on Sunday.
Daring tactics from Excelsior
The new Excelsior coach, Ricardo Moniz, went with a daring strategy in his debut match. He refused to fan our too far back, opting for a formation and playing style which applied pressure towards the front. This was effective, but Ajax took advantage of the extra space created. In the 11th minute, Donny van de Beek sent Huntelaar in, and the striker rounded off with a spot-on lob.
It took a long time after that for another goal to be scored. In the meantime, De Jong had left the field with a hamstring injury and this was bad news, considering the upcoming game at Juventus. With Ekkelenkamp within the lines, Ajax was able to make things happen in the last part of the first half.
Fortunate 2-0 by Tadic
The 2-0 goal made its way onto the sheet with some good fortune. Excelsior defender Jurgen Mattheij intended to clear the ball, but stumbled on Huntelaar’s body, after which the ball curved before Tadic’s feet. The Serb then pulled the trigger easily for his 21st competition goal of the season.
The 3-0 which followed only a few minutes later was just as beautiful. A lively attack landed at Tadic’s feet, and he sought out Ziyech. The Moroccan controlled the ball flawlessly and had a pass to Huntelaar at the ready. The striker only needed to walk into the ball next to the second post: 3-0.
Former-Ajacied does something in return for Excelsior
The margin was decreased by Excelsior just before halftime. Former Ajacied Mounir El Hamdaoui scored a great goal, 3-1.
In the first fifteen minutes after the break, the Amsterdam team did very little. Until the 60th minute, when captain Matthijs de Ligt fell to the ground after a duel with Ryan Koolwijk. The Amsterdam crowd gasped: would De Ligt have to leave the field, as well as De Jong? But there was good news on two fronts. De Ligt was able to
continue and, after consulting the video assistant referee, Van Boekel indicated the point. Tadic was able to make good with this opportunity: 4-1.
The mojo returned to the Amsterdam team’s game after that. And the score kept on moving upwards. 5-1 via Huntelaar: the veteran took full advantage of Daley Blind’s prep work and finished off his hat trick.
Beautiful goal by Dolberg
After that, Huntelaar, together with Tadic, left the field. Dolberg and Joël Veltman were their substitutes. Dolberg didn’t need long to make an impact. Two minutes after coming in, he was good for a stunning 6-1. Ziyech took a free kick quickly and put Dolberg to work. The Dane controlled the ball with his chest, and fired a shot with his left foot.
Shortly before the end, Jeffrey Fortes scored Excelsior’s second goal. Final score: 6-2. Just four Eredivisie games to go, but first,off to Turin!