On Sunday Ajax lost a league match for the second week in a row. After the defeat at home against ADO they faltered again in their away match against AZ. Ajax lost 2-0 in Alkmaar. Minutes before the final whistle, Ooijer was shown the red card and Ajax ended the match one man down. This loss was Ajax’ first defeat in an away game since 6 December 2009 (FC Utrecht).
Only days after FC Twente suffered its first defeat of the season against NAC, Ajax failed to take advantage off the loss of points by their competitor. In Alkmaar Ajax headed for a 2-0 defeat within three minutes in the last quarter of an hour of playing time. A sensitive loss, particularly in the run up to the top match against PSV (on Saturday in the ArenA) and the battle at home against Real Madrid in the Champions League. The second league defeat in a row couldn’t have come at a worse moment. Moreover, runner-up AZ has now approached Martin Jol’s team by two points.
Just as in the midweek cup match against BV Veendam, Christian Eriksen was on the pitch right from the start in Alkmaar as well. Demy de Zeeuw had lower back trouble and started of on the bench along with Eyong Enoh. Siem de Jong and Rasmus Lindgren made up the midfield.
The first half didn’t really kick off until after the first thirty minutes of play. Up until then neither side had posed any real threat. Siem de Jong opened a series of opportunities in the 27th minute, which then went back and forth between both goals. The best opportunities in the first half were for Luis Suarez and AZ striker Pellè. After thirty minutes Ajax’ team captain bounced the ball against the bar and Pellè headed the ball across Stekelenburg’s goal just before half time.
At the start of the second half Ajax got off lightly. A fast throw-in by AZ almost resulted in a goal by Pellè. However, the tall Italian ran into Stekelenburg. After that precarious moment in front of the goal, it was a long time before there was any new spectacle. Under the watchful eye of, amongst others, Richard Witschge and Olaf Lindenbergh, who were there because of television commitments, nothing much happened in the derby of the province of North Holland. Ajax simply failed to take a stand against the twofold champion.
Even bringing in Mido to receive after an hour of play didn’t bring Ajax any extra clout. The role he played against BV Veendam (goal and assist) was not a profitable one for him in Alkmaar. On the contrary: AZ became stronger and speculated on a win while the minutes were ticking away. A perfectly directed header by Pontus Wernbloom highlighted that mission fifteen minutes before time: 1-0. Ajax had hardly recovered from that loss, when they were slain by a header again. Substitute Sigthórsson, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, decided the battle once and for all with his head: 2-0.
Little remained for Ajax to do. Mounir El Hamdaoui didn’t get past his 99 league goals in the match against his former employer and Suarez also failed to give a new impulse to his newly found luck in scoring. Furthermore Ajax ended the match with only ten players on the pitch after Ooijer had to leave the pitch with a red card for a foul against Pellè. In short, it was an afternoon to be quickly forgotten.
Jol called the defeat against AZ ‘a tremendous disappointment’. ,,In the second half we didn’t get around to playing football at all. Both physically and mentally we were all over the place”, Ajax’ manager said. ,,As a team we need to own matches as quickly as possible and take the initiative, but that didn’t happen again today. We lacked the conviction that AZ had.”
Photographs: Ajax.nl/Louis van de Vuurst