Ajax has won the KNVB Cup for the 19th time thanks to a strong performance. In the Kuip in Rotterdam, Willem II was the victim. The hungry Ajacieds won the game by 0-4 and with this, their first prize since 2014.
The fact that Ajax will face a very tough week was not evident in Rotterdam. The focus was completely on the cup final. The first prize of the season had to be won.
With Kristensen, Noussair Mazraoui and Klaas Jan Huntelaar in the squad, Ajax kicked off its first cup final since 2014. At that time, PEC Zwolle was the opponent; now it was Willem II. Joël Veltman, David Neres and Lasse Schöne started on the bench.
Exciting opening phase
On paper, it seemed that Willem II had selected a very defensive line-up, but this wasn’t evident in the way they played. Ajax was barely able to get out of its own half in the first 10 minutes, but still had the first big opportunity. Huntelaar sent the ball just wide with the outside of his right foot. In this exciting starting phase, Willem II also nearly scored the opening goal on two occasions, but thanks to action by the outstanding Matthijs de Ligt, no goal against was scored.
Ajax shakes Willem II off
Still, Ajax managed to shake Willem II off in the first half. In the 37th minute, Daley blind extended a beautiful pass by Dusan Tadic past keeper Tim Wellenreuther with his head. Two minutes later, the score was 0-2. After an amazing attack over the right side, Klaas Jan Huntelaar sent Freek Heerkens astray with a clever play, and rounded off perfectly with his left foot: 0-2.
After play resumed in the second half, Ajax faced a fighting Willem II again. The Tilburg team had another good opportunity, but once again, De Ligt stepped in well. In the 53rd minute, Ajax again had the chance to bring the game to 0-3 when Wellenreuther had come far out of his goal, but misfired. Ziyech and Tadic were both unable to increase the lead.
Ziyech left the field shortly after in favour of David Neres. Koster made a change in the 62nd minute as well. Crowley and Vrousai came in to give Willem II an offensive impulse. But it was Ajax that scored again. Klaas Jan Huntelaar was, once again, on the receiving end of a beautiful attack in the 67th minute. With his 5th goal in 3 cup finals, the experienced striker made his coach happy that he had put him in the squad: 0-3.
Kristensen also scores
The nice moments were still coming. In the 76th minute, Rasmus Kristensen experienced his high point as an Ajacied by scoring his very first goal in the Ajax jersey: 0-4. Although Ajax still tried to increase the goal count, they didn’t get past 4. An outstanding start in the prize season. On Wednesday, the team will face Tottenham Hotspurs, and hope to reach the Champions League final. Erik ten Hag’s team currently has a 1-0 advantage against Tottenham.