Thanks to two great goals by Nemanja Gudelj and Viktor Fischer, Ajax has increased its strong hold on first place on Saturday evening. The 2-0 win against FC Groningen ensured that Ajax can travel to Norway feeling confident next week for their European match against Molde FK.
The win against FC Groningen was a good boost for Ajax as they head into a tough week that includes matches against Molde and PSV (Sunday in Amsterdam). The 2-0 win against Groningen was also the seventh clean sheet in a row in Eredivisie home games. Ajax thus matches its record from 1997. Frank de Boer: “We really defended as a team. That’s why the compliments aren’t only for the defense. It starts out in front, where you relieve pressure on defense. It’s a real team achievement.”
Competition debut Younes
Amin Younes made his competition debut for Ajax. The German forward has already played in the UEFA Europa League and cup tournament this season, and now also has his first Eredivisie game under his belt. Younes’ starting spot, at the expense of Viktor Fischer, was the only change compared to the competition match against Excelsior. The players who had been granted a break for the midweek cup match against De Graafschap were back at kick-off. John Heitinga, who was the match winner on Wednesday evening, took his spot in the stands three days after his official debut, and was heartily chanted to by the fans.
The squad on cup holder FC Groningen’s side consisted of many players with an Ajax past – more than half, in fact. Sergio Padt, Johan Kappelhof, Lorenzo Burnet, Danny Hoesen, Rasmus Lindgren and Hedwiges Maduro have all played in Amsterdam for varying lengths of time. It was fun for both the players and the fans in the stadium, in which the Groningen team has never won.
Free kick Gudelj
Nemanja Gudelj brought the team into the lead in the first half. The Serb left keeper Padt without a hope on a free kick: 1-0. It was a great goal that finally gave the fans in the stadium a reason to cheer. Prior to that, except for two headers from Arek Milik, very little had happened in front of both goals. Shortly before the break, Younes had Ajax’s second goal at his feet. His shot into the near corner was prey for keeper Padt. The former Ajacied saved another goal, preventing an increase in his team’s deficit.
Ajax started the second half with several good opportunities. Captain Davy Klaassen, Arek Milik and Anwar El Ghazi created some danger in front of the Groningen goal as play resumed in the second half. Despite Ajax’s offensive intentions, the team remained stuck at a one-goal lead. And although the visitors didn’t create much danger themselves, Ajax was not in a position to sit on their laurels with a 1-0 lead.
The wait for another Ajax goal ended ten minutes before time. Substitute Viktor Fischer started an adventure from left flank, which led him past several Groningen players. The Dane then chipped the ball beautifully over the keeper: 2-0. This amazing goal was replayed countless times on the big screens. This was a perfect end to a great evening. De Boer: “I’m very satisfied with the game. We played compactly, with lots of energy in the game and we had several great moments.”