At the beginning of the Ajax versus NAC match, Coach Martin Jol had a flashback to the team’s game against Sparta, when Luis Suarez missed two good chances to score in the eighth and ninth minute. But unlike in that duel, where Ajax remained scoreless against the Kasteel based Rotterdam team after forty attempts on goal, their third shot on goal today went straight in during the eleventh minute of play. The rest of the match saw the team from Amsterdam handily defeat NAC, 6-0. This marked Ajax’s 700th victory at home in the eredivisie.
It must have been an interesting afternoon for Marko Pantelic. De Serbian forward trained with the team for the first time on Saturday, and was already part of the squad on Sunday. From the bench, he watched as his new team mate, and competitor, Dario Cvitanich scored the opening goal in the eleventh minute. Four minutes later, NAC had a chance to even the score, as Donny Gorter‘s well placed free kick found Matthew Amoah, who had opened himself up at the back post. The forward from Breda was in a great position, but his header went wide of the goal.
Ajax didn’t waste any time and doubled the score shortly afterwards. After conferring over an awarded free kick, Demy de Zeeuw nudged the ball sideways, where Jan Vertonghen drove it home with lightning speed and surgical precision. The relief was great for the Belgian player, who, the previous week, had appeared severely injured as he left the field during the Belgium versus Spain international. But Vertonghen was healthy and fit once again, playing an extraordinary match, and after ninety minutes was rightfully named Ajax Player of the Game.
Ajax continued their relentless attack, to the great joy of the crowd. Thanks to a series of beautiful plays, which De Zeeuw was often part of, the disappointing team from Breda didn’t stand a chance against Ajax. The third goal, which could have been scored earlier by De Zeeuw, Cvitanich or Ismaïl Aissati, came three minutes before half time, as Luis Suarez capitalised on a weak back pass from Gorter, bringing the score to 3-0. Aissati showed good technique in the 44th minute, which to the fan’s disappointment, didn’t lead to a goal. The fourth Ajax goal came in extra time. A beautiful, deep pass from Toby Alderweireld reached De Zeeuw, who passed back to Cvitanich. On the sidelines, Pantelic cheered on as the Argentine scored, the new team member clapping enthusiastically. With a 4-0 lead, Ajax and the discouraged team from Breda retreated to the locker rooms. “We came here confident” said the deflated NAC coach Robert Maaskant after the match. “We believed that we could give Ajax a difficult match. But, except for the first 45 seconds, we just weren’t in the game. We were mediocre on defence, and we didn’t do much when we had ball possession. By half time, we had already come to the unfortunate conclusion that the match was over for us. “
The start of the second half was just as exciting as forty five minutes earlier. Suarez drew keeper Ten Rouwelaar out of the goal, waited patiently for his chance, and presented the ball neatly in front of goal where Kennedy – for the first time this season in the starting eleven- scored to make it 5-0. Fifteen minutes later, Cvitanich brought the game to 6-0 with a sharp shot. Had Ajax’s aim been a bit more accurate this afternoon, a double digit score would not have been unthinkable. With thirteen minutes left on the clock, Martin Jol gave Pantelic his chance to debut. Two minutes after coming into the game, the Serbian player had a scoring opportunity, which was forcibly stopped. As Pantelic lay injured on the field, the crowd called for a penalty kick, but Nijhuis let the play continue. Pantelic managed to go on, and, in his brief time on field, showed he knows the shortest way to the goal. His presence opens up possibilities for Jol. Thursday night will be the first group match in the Europa League against FC Timisoara. After this duel against NAC, who before today shared the same ranking as Ajax, the team from Amsterdam can go to their next match with confidence.