Ajax has won its first away match for this season. At NEC, the reigning national champions defeated their hosts, 0-3. Siem de Jong (two goals) and Nicolai Boilesen scored. “Compliments to the guys”, said Frank de Boer.
Roughly three months after the start of competition play, Ajax has finally earned three points in an away match. In the previous away matches at AZ, sc Heerenveen, FC Groningen, PSV and FC Twente, Ajax has only earned three points. That total was doubled thanks to the win in Nijmegen.
Ajax started the duel knowing that PEC – FC Twente had ended in a 1-1 tie, which was favourable for Ajax. Afterwards, the good news came that PSV had lost at NAC. Ajax thus took an upwards a leap in the rankings. The thirteenth round of Eredivisie play was thus full of surprises as well as movement.
Against NEC, Frank de Boer chose to go with the same line-up as has started in last Wednesday’s Champions League victory against Celtic. By doing this, he aimed to keep spirits high in the team. That meant that Siem de Jong started as centre forward once again. Joël Veltman, who will report to the Dutch national team next week for the first time, formed a central duo at the back with Stefano Denswil. Niklas Moisander, who still isn’t one hundred per cent fit, started on the bench.
De Boer’s good feeling about the game beforehand was reflected in the score. Within half an hour, Ajax had put considerable distance between itself and NEC. De Jong opened the score in the 28th minute with a spot-on header after a good pass from Nicolai Boilesen. With that, Ajax’s captain mercilessly punished a mistake made by NEC defender Michel Breuer (who went half-down with the ball). Two minutes later, Breuer committed another error. On a pass from Lasse Schöne, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson had the ball at his feet, after which Boilesen finished off: 0-2. It was the Dane’s first competition goal for Ajax. Soon before the break, Sigthórsson had a third Ajax goal at his feet. On a pass from Daley Blind, the Icelander shot the ball – which had been an almost-sure goal - wide.
After the break, Eredivisie bottom-feeder NEC remained unable to make anything happen against Ajax. It wasn’t until midway through the second half that De Jong nailed the coffin shut on NEC. Three minutes after he had sent a header onto the crossbar, he scored his second goal of the afternoon with a clean low shot. He finished off a great Ajax attack on a pass from Schöne. In extra time, Jeffrey Leiwakabessy came close to scoring for NEC, but his shot bounced off the crossbar.
Although De Boer was happy with the win, he felt that the score should have been even higher. “I felt that we could have gotten more out of it. We even could have doubled the score. Despite that, I’m satisfied. Think about it: we’ve won our first way game and we kept clean sheet. And we did that after a playing midweek duel. My compliments to the guys.”
The win against NEC ensured that the Ajax players can go into the upcoming interland period feeling good. That could get even better for some players in the next week and a half. For example, Joël Veltman could make his debut for the Dutch team in interlands against Japan or Colombia. Sigthórsson will play with Iceland for a World Cup ticket. And, when Ajax plays Heracles at home in two weeks, they just may be one international and World Cup traveler richer.