An Amsterdam native coaching ADO Den Haag, and a Den Haag native coaching Ajax: that was the situation in this matchup of Ajax-ADO Den Haag. Raymond Atteveld and Martin Jol had only praise for each other after the game, which Ajax won 3-0.
“ADO now has a new style, for the first time in years”, said Jol about his colleague’s work. “It’s a sort of English game style. It’s difficult to play against them, with the weapons they have. Many clubs will experience this.”
Jol’s team didn’t have an easy time in the first half, despite the fact that they created many good opportunities. After five minutes of play, Dario Cvitanich had the chance to put Ajax ahead, thanks to a pass from Luis Suarez. Many opportunities followed for Ajax, among others for Kennedy whose shot from the right side went just wide of Barry Ditewig’s goal. The ADO keeper had a busy first half. Captain Luis Suarez displayed class before being brought down, by stopping, turning, and misleading the ADO defence. His pass landed at Urby Emanuelson’s feet, whose shot was too weak.
It was ADO, however, that scored the first goal in the seventeenth minute. Bogdan Milic took a strong shot on goal, which landed behind Maarten Steklelenberg. The euphoria was short, as referee Allaert called offside, leaving the score at 0-0. This goal was valid, according to Atteveld. “It wasn’t offside, it was a clean goal”, he said after the match.
After almost thirty minutes of play, Ajax was rewarded. Midfielder Demy de Zeeuw, who played an outstanding game, took a hard shot from outside the box, right into the upper corner. Jol complimented his midfielder: “De Zeeuw’s strengths were needed to open up the match”.
Lorenzo Piqué gave ADO two opportunities to even the score. The defender forced Stekelenburg to make two saves after a hard shot and an overhead kick.
“We should have done more with the chances we got”, said Atteveld. “1-0 came out of nowhere. We had an injured player who left the field, and suddenly our organisation was gone.” He had already advised his team: “We have to give more to perform better” In general, Atteveld was satisfied. “We weren’t bad”.
The game shifted into higher gear in the second half. Suarez, named Player of the Game at the end, made a nice lob that landed on the crossbar. Soon after, Jan Vertonghen took a shot, after a good set up by Dennis Rommendahl. “The second half was much better” said Jol. Demy de Zeeuw and Suarez set up and attack in the 71st minute. The Uruguayan set the ball up for Marko Pantelic, who ticked it in easily. The Serbian player scored his first goal for Ajax, 2-0. Soon after, Suarez and Pantelic threatened again, just outside the box. Suarez made juggling the ball look easy before striking hard. Pantelic couldn’t convert the rebound. But Ajax made it 3-0 in the ninetieth minute: Siem de Jong, in for Ismaïl Aissati, sent it home after a pass from Dennis Rommendahl. According to Jol, the final score didn’t tell the whole story. “It could have easily ended up at 7-2, but after 2-0, it was pure enjoyment for us”.