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Grounded Ajax goes down at AZ in Alkmaar

Grounded Ajax goes down at AZ in Alkmaar

A grounded Ajax lost the game to number 2 ranked AZ by 1-0.  A last-minute goal by Myron Boadu handed Ajax its third straight loss.

This was the third game in a row in which Ajax failed to score.  But there were not many opportunities.  Due to this loss, the Amsterdam team is now even with AZ in the Eredivisie.  Because Ajax’s goal balance is better than the Alkmaar team’s, Erik ten Hag’s team remains the leader.

Difficult puzzle
Ten Hag had a difficult puzzle to solve for the last away game of 2019.  Several regular players were forced to sit out the top game against AZ.  Sergiño Dest, Daley Blind and Nico Tagliafico were all absent from the starting line-up.  Of these three, only Tagliafico came in for a few minutes, but it was clear that these missing players, as well and the injured David Neres, Quincy Promes and Zakaria Labyad, would take a toll on the already troubled team.

'Be composed'
Ten Hag acknowledged that these injuries would take a toll on his team: “This isn’t the line-up that we’ve been playing with for the past few months, but it’s not creating and uncertainty.  We need to be composed and give our all.”

Deserved better
Ajax seemed poised to bring one point home for most of the game.  After scoreless games against Willem II and Valencia, all of Amsterdam hoped against hope that the team would find the goal again, but Ajax failed to do that in the windy AFAS Stadium.  A shot by Veltman (side net) and a Van de Beek shot wide were the team’s greatest opportunities.  A nice Ajax attack accompanied the latter opportunity, via Álvarez and Huntelaar, and it deserved a better fate.

1-0 in 90th minute
In the second half, there were few changes.  The fact that the reflexes were missing isn’t an excuse, but a fact.  Opportunities were scarce and it was only Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Perr Schuurs and Nico Tagliafico who came in the neighborhood of a goal.  AZ wasn’t swimming in opportunities either, but they did score the winning goal at the last minute via Myron Boadu – who defeated the otherwise good Schuurs – 1-0.