Ricardo Kishna helped Ajax to a broad 4-1 win against sc Heerenveen. The winger played the last half hour, but with an assist and a goal, he had a key role. Ajax was down 0-1 at halftime, but thanks to a red card for goal-scorer Slagveer, Ajax played the second half a man up.
With the knowledge that Ajax could close the gap on PSV by one point, the team met Heerenveen on Saturday evening. The Fries team was down nine points on Ajax, but according to coach Frank de Boer, a dangerous opponent. And the Fries team proved that for one hour.
De Boer had a relatively fit selection at his disposal. Considering the players who returned from the interland period with slight injuries (Lasse Schöne and Lucas Andersen, from Denmark) this was positive news. Considering that the sold-out stadium, the supporters were fully confident that they would see a good match against Heerenveen.
But that wasn’t the case in the beginning. The first half was marked by sloppy play in which Ajax struggled defensively to get and keep possession. Although Luciano Slagveer had sent a clear warning in the seventh minute with a dangerous header, it was Ajax who almost took the lead. After a beautiful pass from Thulani Serero, Ricardo van Rhijn sent the ball beautifully towards the goal. Unfortunately, the shot went wide. In the eighteenth minute, Slagveer opened the score. A corner ball landed at the Heerenveen player’s feet, and with a beautiful volley, he opened the score, 0-1.
Slagveer would be the man of the first half in any case, as shortly before the break – after pulling on Nicolai Boilesen’s jersey – he received his second yellow card. Shortly after that, coach Dwight Lodeweges was also sent away due to his comments to the referees. Ajax hadn’t created any good opportunities in the first half, thus the 0-1 score was logical.
In the second half, Ajax should have made better use of the man-up situation. But things just wouldn’t get going. Balls bounced off feet, passes weren’t well received and great opportunities were missed. El Ghazi failed to pull the trigger in the fiftieth minute, after Millik had passed his man to the right, had made a good pass but Klaassen found the keeper in his path. El Ghazi shot too softly from nearby, and Nordfeldt made the save.
But in the 66th minute, the tying goal came. Substitute Ricardo Kishna and Lucas Andersen earned a corner. It was taken short, landed with Andersen again, who made a pass. Daley Sinkgravey the ticked the ball into his own goal, 1-1 – just before Anwar El Ghazi could score. Six minutes later, the goal was completely to his credit. It was Kishna who sent the ball to the right winger, who scored beautifully, 2-1. One minute later, Kishna hunted Marzo very well, after which he was able to intercept. With a well-placed shot, he crowned his excellent stint as a substitute (during which he also brought the crowd to his feet with a fantastic heel ball) with a great goal, 3-1. He was so happy with his first goal of the season that he immediately removed his jersey and therefore received a yellow card from Blom. De Boer was upset: “Yes, I can get angry about that. I was happy with the goal, but not so happy when he removed his shirt.”
Ajax built their lead even more. Substitute Kolbeinn Sigthórsson was hauled down in the penalty kick area by Otigba. Fellow striker Milik executed the sentence by scoring into the right corner, 4-1. Because Milik sent a header over the goal at the end of the match, the final score remained 4-1. De Boer: “This is a good result. I’m pleased with the 4-1, but we all know we need to do better.”
Ajax thus won its dress rehearsal for the Champions League match this coming Tuesday against PSG with good, somewhat inflated, numbers.