PSV again too strong in the Arena

Ajax were undefeated in the Amsterdam Arena for more than a year. The last loss was against PSV on November 25 2001. On December 15 2002 PSV did it again. In an at times wild and crazy match the side from Eindhoven won 2-4 and replaced Ajax as the leader in the league table.

PSV have never lost a league match in the Arena and their furious start on Sunday proved they wanted to keep their record intact. After four minutes Mateja Kezman scored, but he was ruled offside. A minute later Ajax were dealt the first blow. Captain Cristian Chivu indicated that he could not play on because of a recurring injury. He had to be replaced by Petri Pasanen after only seven minutes.

Seven minutes later PSV scored. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink’s cross from the left wing found an unmarked Arjan Robben who had no trouble putting it away: 0-1. Ajax then opened the race for the equaliser. Zlatan had a number of chances. First he found goalkeeper Waterreus on his way. A few minutes later the Swedish striker’s goal was disallowed when he appeared to be offside when he put in the rebound of Bergdølmo’s attempt. The third attempt brought Zlatan his goal. Litmanen’s strike was stopped by Waterreus and Zlatan found himself in the right place to score the equaliser. It was Ajax’s 4000th goal since the inception of the professional football league in The Netherlands.

Although Ajax should have learned from the first half, again PSV started well and three minutes into the second half it was Kezman who shot the ball past goalkeeper Stekelenburg: 1-2. Ajax again managed to score the equaliser quickly. In the 55th minute Waterreus stopped Zlatan’s attempt but the goalkeeper could not prevent Andy van der Meyde making it 2-2 in his 100th official match for Ajax.

But Ajax could not enjoy the goal very long. Right away, PSV went on the attack. Kezman seemed to foul Bergdølmo, but was not penalised. Stekelenburg let go of a high ball and Vennegoor of Hesselink was left with an easy finish: 2-3. Stekelenburg claimed to be fouled in the air and took a quick free kick, sending Galasek away to the other goal. The Czech midfielder scored, but the referee had allowed PSV a goal already.

With Mido for Litmanen Ajax had some more chances. Zlatan came close when he freed himself for a shot that hit the goalpost. In the 78th minute PSV scored the deciding goal. A shot from distance by Theo Lucius hit the post, after which Vennegoor again found himself in an ideal position to put the ball in the empty goal: 2-4.

Ajax did not have the strength to catch up with PSV after that. It meant that PSV won a league match in the Amsterdam Arena for the sixth season in a row. The defeat meant for Ajax that they fell to second place in the table, trailing PSV by two points.