After just one minute, a hungry reserve centre forward showed his class in a match that Ajax should have won easily. Heracles put up resistance, but was beaten by beautiful goals by Hoesen, Fischer and Klaassen. Final score: 3-0.
Just two minutes into this Saturday’s game, the voices of a thousand fanatical Ajax supporters in stand 410 were calling out his name. ‘Hoesennnnn’ resounded through the Amsterdam ArenA, where just one minute before, Danny Hoesen had shown his vulture-like hunger. That’s just what his coach had been wanting from him. Due to Kolbeinn Sigthórsson’s and Siem de Jong’s absence, the 22 year old centre forward had his chance to prove himself in the front, and that’s exactly what the Limburg native did against Heracles. Having broken free of his guards, Hoesen saw his opportunity, and sent a flawless shot past Remko Pasveer into the far corner. And one thing was immediately clear: his evening could no longer go wrong.
Captain Siem de Jong must have thought exactly the same thing, as he watched from a very different place: the F-side, in the middle of Stand 410, where he was immediately handed a few drumsticks. What is the crowd favourite supposed to do? Exactly...drum. With a broad grin on his face, as the ArenA spectators saw on the large screens.
As Siem watched, Ajax created most of the opportunities from the first half. Goals didn’t come, however, as, among others, Veltman’s header went over and Schöne’s shot went wide. In contrast, a few jabs came from Heracles, as Mikhail Rosheuvel appeared to be a very worthy forward. But his swift solos on the right flank didn’t lead to the desired result for Jan de Jonge’s team. “We were hopeless”, concluded De Jonge afterwards. “After such an early goal against, you know that it’s going to be a tough night.”
Next to him at that moment, was a satisfied Ajax coach. Frank de Boer saw how his team, in his own words, continued on the good path they have laid out in the past few weeks, putting pressure on the Almelo defense. “I would have preferred to be 2-0 ahead at halftime. We were in control, but anything can happen when it’s 1-0.”
After the break, almost 50.000 spectators watched on as Ajax played a controlled game, on their way to three important points in the battle to take over the Eredivisie’s top position. The match, however, wasn’t spectacular. But it did go well, considering the 3-0 final score. Heracles went under slowly, was barely threatening, while Ajax expanded its lead. Viktor Fischer thus missed two close-range attempts, just like Danny Hoesen, whose shot arced into the goal’s roof.
At that moment, the unlucky Fischer was on the receiving end of a perfect pass from Lasse Schöne. It was made to measure for a goal, after which the young Dane could have boosted his self-confidence by easily ticking the ball into the goal. But Fischer didn’t provide relief for the fans, whose bravado must have secretly been undermined by fear of an equalizing goal by the Almelo team. Nothing is sure in football, not even on an evening during which Ajax is walking over an opponent who is being cheered on by a meagre 18 fans that made the trip.
As a cherry on the cake, a great goal came from Davy Klaassen, who was playing due to De Jong and Sigthórsson’s absence. He did a good job, thanks in part to his spot-on header ten minutes before the end. After a Nicolai Boilesen pass Klaassen stood in front of his man, and subsequently sent the ball hard against the ropes.
This was reason enough for coach De Boer to praise Klaassen’s performance afterwards. But De Boer wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t say that he demanded even more from the young midfielder. He said the same about Danny Hoesen, who also made a very strong impression according to the coach. “It’s good for their confidence that they scored. They did their best, but I know they can both do even better.”
While De Boer and his colleague De Jonge spoke about the game, Tonny Bruins Slot was already thinking of upcoming opponent Barcelona, who defeated Granada 4-0. Using his analysis, De Boer will be forming a plan to give the Catalan team as difficult a time as possible in the ArenA this coming Tuesday. In his own words: “With master scout Tonny Bruins Slot, we’ll see what the best way is to fight Barcelona.”