Ajax took a big step towards its 32nd national championship on Sunday. In a direct confrontation with PSV, Ajax dealt a hard blow to the Eindhoven club. The 2-3 away win gives Ajax a five point lead against the number 2 team, with four rounds of play left before the end.
With a loud ‘champions, champions’, the 1.200 fans who had come along screamed themselves hoarse. Together with the Ajax players, the supporters celebrated the outcome of the 30th Eredivisie match, which went sublimely for Ajax. Four games before the end, Ajax is sitting in a great position to win its third national title in a row.
Before PSV and Ajax arrived at the kick-off, it was clear that it was a potentially lucrative weekend for both teams. Days after title contender Vitesse lost two precious points against Joda JC, Feyenoord also went astray away at RKC. The 1-1 tie in Waalwijk was known shortly before kick-off in Eindhoven, making it even clearer that Ajax had a lot to gain in this visit to PSV. On the other hand, PSV was fighting for its last chance at the top spot in the rankings. According to both coaches, each team’s interests were obvious. Both Frank de Boer and Dick Advocaat saw their teams play most of the match in an anxious fashion.
Ajax’s win in Eindhoven was historically significant for several reasons. Of the last seventeen editions of PSV-Ajax, Ajax has only won one. This season, only Vitesse and PEC Zwolle left Eindhoven with the full three points. Ajax joined that group on Sunday afternoon. Moreover, Ajax beat PSV twice in one season for the first time since the 1994-1995 season. That six-point difference is exactly the gap between the national champion and the club which is seeking its first championship since 2008.
After the sounds of Guus Meeuwis had died down, a first half unfolded during which Viktor Fischer made himself noticed. The young Dane had three opportunities within four minutes midway through the first half. But a starring role like he had in the home game against PSV (goal and assist) wasn’t in the cards for him this time.
In the 33rd minute, Ajax, with Jasper Cillessen replacing the suspended Kenneth Vermeer, took a well-deserved 1-0 lead. Kolbeinn Sigthórsson broke the stalemate in Eindhoven by sliding the ball into the goal from nearby. The Icelander had taken possession of the ball somewhat by accident after a pass from Eriksen had been originally intended for Fischer was missed. Via PSV captain Mark van Bommel, the ball landed at Sigthórsson’s feet, and he didn’t hesitate to put it to good use. “A true centre-forward goal”, De Boer described the goal scored by Ajax’s number 9. “Kolbeinn worked hard and won many showdowns. He was very valuable to the team today.”
Ten minutes after the 1-0 goal, PSV tied the game. Jeremain Lens brought his team back into the match. Just like in Amsterdam, PSV’s forward brought his team even. Eriksen’s mistake at midfield was punished by Strootman and finally resulted in a goal by Lens. The 1-1 goal fell shortly after Ajax was refused a penalty kick. Fischer was shoved by Van Bommel in the box, but instead of a penalty kick, Fischer received a yellow card for protesting too loudly about the fact that he didn’t get a penalty. De Boer: “I know Viktor pretty well. He’s not a guy who falls easily.”
Seven minutes into the second half, Eriksen more than made up for his mistake from the first half. On a pass from Daley Blind, he started a rush over the left flank, which ended with a pointed shot which ended up in the near corner: 1-2. Later, Ajax could have scored a third goal, was it not for the fact that Lasse Schöne didn’t get a penalty kick after contact with Jetro Willems in the Eindhoven penalty kick area. De Boer questioned this as well afterwards.
Just like in the first half, Ajax couldn’t hold on to its newly acquired lead for long. Fifteen minutes after the score became 1-2, it turned into 2-2. Right in a moment when PSV was, according to Ajax’s coach, was ‘ripe for the picking.’ Instead of finishing off the opponent, it was Lens again who pulled PSV even of Ajax. The international reacted alertly after a Dries Mertens free kick bounced back off of the post. He struck mercilessly in the rebound.
Right after that goal against, Ryan Babel came in for Fischer. Derk Boerrigter came in later to bring in fresh blood and speed on the other wing. That paid off immediately. Barely two minutes on the field, Boerrigter made himself immortal by bringing Ajax into the lead for the third time. In a sprint duel to reach the ball, he bettered Erik Pieters cleverly, after which Boerrigter shot the ball past Waterman, who had come out. He took advantage of PSV’s poor communication at the back.
This third blow proved to be fatal to the home team. And Ajax was able to deal a hard blow to PSV. The difference between leader Ajax and number 2 Vitesse is now five points. Number three PSV follows at six points behind. Looking at the game schedule, it can be seen that Ajax has another exciting weekend coming up. Ajax plays a home match on Friday evening against sc Heerenveen and after that, can wait for the result of AZ-PSV (Saturday) and Feyenoord – Vitesse (Sunday).
Keep watching Ajax TV for highlights of PSV – Ajax and retrospectives from Frank de Boer and a few Ajax players.