Loss at home to Utrecht hard blow for Ajax

Loss at home to Utrecht hard blow for Ajax

Ajax loss on Sunday is a costly one.  The team lost to FC Utrecht by 1-2 in the Amsterdam ArenA.  With 2 goals Zakaria Labyad was a great asset for the visiting team.  Nick Viergever scored the tying goal, which, in the end, wasn’t of much value.

The loss was a hard blow for Ajax, who seemed to be on the way up after winning 5 straight games.  Because of this loss, the gap with leader PSV could potentially reach 8 points later this afternoon.  The Eindhoven team kick off at 16:45 at home against FC Twente.

It’s practically an open discussion each week: what will Ajax’s starting line-up look like?  An especially hot topic is the centre forward position.  This time, Keizer went with Dolberg, at the expense of Klaas Jan Huntelaar.  Both players were in the line-up for the team’s previous game, at Willem II, due to Amin Younes’ injury.  The German was back for this game.  In addition to that, Keizer also went with Siem de Jong instead of Donny van de Beek.

A matter of time
But the changes were not very effective.  Utrecht was sharper at the start of the game and was threatening twice within the first minute.  Ajax escaped an opening goal against, but it ended up being only a matter of time.  In the 6th minute, Gyrano Kerk was sent up.  The Utrecht forward kept a good overview and sent the ball to Labyad, who was able to score on 2 occasions: 0-1.

This was a setback for Ajax, and they looked for solutions.  But for a long time, they were unable to find any.  The home team didn’t get more than one shot on goal.

Productive defense

However, the much awaited goal came just before the break, thanks to the defense.  The 1-1 goal was the result of a productive defense.  Joël Veltman brought the ball into the Utrecht box, after which Matthijs de Ligt won a header duel and thus brought Viergever into position.  The left-footed player took full advantage of his team mates’ hard work and finished the job: 1-1.

Ajax wanted to breeze through the second half but found much resistance from Utrecht.  The guests had another opportunity shortly after the break to take the lead.  Andre Onana made a great save on a searing volley from Kerk.  Ajax recovered quickly and had an amazing opportunity on the opposite side.  Dolberg served Younes a surefire opportunity, but the left winger still managed to miss it.

A familiar face was on the Utrecht roster: Urby Emanuelson.  The left-footed player had gone through Ajax’s youth academy and played in the first team for several years afterwards.  Emanuelson would have had an assist to his name in his first return game at the ArenA, but Labyad’s shot hit the post.

Not worth it
In an attempt to give a new impulse to the game, Keizer made 3 substitutions in the second half.  First, Frenkie de Jong and Daley Sinkgraven came in for Lasse Schöne and Max Wöber.  Thirteen minutes before the end, Donny van de Beek came in for Siem de Jong.

But it wasn’t worth it, in the end.  Ajax did have a lot of possession, but the team was seldom dangerous.  When Labyad scored the 1-2 goal, the ArenA went quiet.  A long-distance shot by Ziyech onto the crossbar did nothing to change that.

See also: In pictures | Ajax - FC Utrecht (1-2)