Ajax wins in sweltering Hardenberg

Ajax wins in sweltering Hardenberg

Ajax defeated Real Sociedad under tropical conditions on Saturday. After defeating Achilles ’29 earlier in the day, the Amsterdam team was too strong for its Spanish opponent a few hours later, defeating it 3-1. Former Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason brought Sociedad into a 1-0 lead, but Arek Milik, Anwar El Ghazi and a Spanish own goal ensured a well-deserved win.

Ajax opened strongly at Boshoek Sports Park in Hardenberg, home to local HHC. Ajax appeared dangerously in front of the Spanish goal three times in the first ten minutes, with Lasse Schöne saw his three attempts miss the mark. Striker Arek Milik saw his header land on the crossbar in his third attempt. As they were waiting for the 1-0 goal to come, it was one minute later that a goal came on the other side. It was a familiar foe, Alfred Finnbogason, who escaped on the verge of offside, and beat keeper Peter Leeuwenburgh.

Ajax wasn’t fazed. Five minutes after the opening goal, Lerin Duarte sent Milik deep with a cross pass, and he took full advantage of it. He ensured a tying goal with a brilliant shot, to the pleasure of around 3.000 spectators who were all for Ajax, with the exception of a few dozen Spaniards who had made the trip. The first period continued in this fashion, with only Schöne and Duarte providing some drama.

The second half started out much the same. Lasse Schöne saw his long distance shot blocked and Milik and Davy Klaassen were unable to get the rebound behind the keeper. As the second half progressed, the heat became more and more unbearable for Ajax. The Spaniards, more accustomed to this kind of weather, came into the game much better and had a few opportunities. Only Ruben Ligeon came close to scoring for Ajax when he was sent in deep by an outstanding Schöne.

When all of the substitutes came in at the 75th minute to replace the squad, the match tilted in a strange moment. Ligeon made a pass which landed on the head of Sociedad defender Carlos Martinez, whose intention was to calmly send the header to his keeper. But the header was much too high and landed in the goal in a beautiful arc: 2-1.

After the substitutions, the crowd was able to enjoy the young Ajax players, who enthusiastically put Sociedad through the paces. In extra time, it was Anwar El-Ghazi who scored from a corner with a header, 3-1. It was the Ajax player’s sixth goal of the pre-season.

Frank de Boer felt that his team should have taken a bigger lead in the first half: “We created several nice opportunities, but, even more importantly than the result is keeping up to the agreements on the field. Some things went well, others didn’t. But I’ll talk about that tomorrow in the evaluation.”

De Boer admitted that the sweltering head had a great influence on the game. “After 65 minutes, you saw that they were running out of steam. It was quite a bit warmer than in De Lutte, because there was absolutely no breeze on the field here. These were tough conditions, but it’s still important that the players can hold on for 75 minutes.”
Ajax returns to Amsterdam directly after the match. The next friendly match takes place in Lisbon, where Ajax will face Benfica next Saturday.