It was unexpected but Ajax left Groningen on Sunday afternoon with 3 points. The Ajacieds celebrated a 1-2 win thanks to a late goal by Klaas Jan Huntelaar. At that moment, Ajax had 10 men on the field after Joël Veltman had been sent off. Earlier in the second half, Justin Kluivert had erased the one goal lead that Tom van Weert had given his team.
Thanks to the win, Ajax brought its deficit against leader PSV back to 7 points. The Eindhoven team will head to AZ, the current number 3 team, on Saturday. The following week, PSV – Ajax will take place. In short, the Eredivisie championship race is still on, thanks in part to the final result in Groningen.
Chance for Veltman
In the Noordlease Stadium, Joël Veltman had a starting spot. The captain got the nod above Max Wöber at the central back position. Veltman had lost his starting spot several weeks ago to Rasmus Kristensen. This time, he was given the spot because Ten Hag sees Veltman and Matthijs de Ligt as the ideal duo to fight the home team’s strikers.
Ajax’s good intentions aside, none of this came to pass in Groningen. The Amsterdam team were overrun by their hosts, who were simply more aggressive, in the first half. Groningen’s opening goal in the14th minute was well-deserved. Van Weert sent the ball in.
Onana takes Ajax by the hand
Thing went further south after that and it was only thanks to Onana that the opposite team didn’t score more. After Lasse Schöne had lost possession and Veltman touched the ball with his hands, the ball was placed on the spot, but the Cameroonian goalie stopped the shot by Mimoun Mahi. But Onana’s prowess didn’t stop there. The goalie made several other stunning saves and single-handedly ensured that his team was only down by one goal at halftime.
After the break, Ajax didn’t play much better at first, although Hakim Ziyech did have an opportunity. The midfielder’s right-footed shot went wide. Groningen was still the dominant party, as it had been in the first half, but didn’t manage to increase its lead. Free in front of Onana, Juninho Bacuna didn’t go for his own goal, but tried to bring his team mate into position. His attempt failed.
Groningen was presented with the bill after 64 minutes of play, when Kluivert scored the tying goal out of the blue. The left winger made a header on Ziyech’s pass and scored convincingly: 1-1.
Better closing phase
Egged on by the goal and due to the fact that Groningen’s strength was slowly ebbing away, Ajax starting playing better. The Ajacieds pressed and got opportunities to score the 1-2. Ziyech shot wide, and, 12 minutes before time, Nico Tagliafico was in a good position to score. The Argentine’s header went over.
Unexpectedly, the Ajacieds left Groningen pumping their fists. Huntelaar scored the 1-2 goal one minute before the end.