Ajax is heading into the interland period on a sour note. In Alkmaar, the Amsterdam team was defeated by AZ, 1-0. Due to this loss, the Ajacieds have lost control in the race for the title.
PSV, who will visit the Johan Cruijff ArenA in 2 weeks, had posted a narrow 0-1 win at VVV earlier in the afternoon. Just before kick-off, the gap between the leader and Ajax had increased to 5 points. In order to keep their chances at winning the championship in their own hands, the Ajacieds needed to win at AZ. They failed to do this.
Erik ten Hag went with his Champions League line-up with Dusan Tadic as centre forward and David Neres on the flank. Compared to Wednesday’s narrow win against PEC Zwolle, the coach was now able to use Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech. Ajax was in fighting form.
But after 20 minutes of play, with AZ’s Seuntjes getting the best scoring opportunity, that dream was dashed. Ziyech was forced to leave the field and was replaced by Kasper Dolberg.
Ajax was playing a sloppy game, and they watched AZ get stronger and stronger in the first half. In the 28th minute, the Amsterdam team escaped narrowly when Oussama Idrissi’s shot was stopped at the line by Nico Tagliafico, and shortly after, Onana was forced to step in on a shot by Midtsjø. Ajax had a few good moments, and the best was for Donny van de Beek. He saw his header get turned away by Ron Vlaar.
Well deserved 1-0 for AZ via Til
Ajax started off better in the second half and, via Dolberg, had a chance to score the opening goal. The Dane’s header went wide. After that, Stengs had 2 good opportunities, but Daley Blind took good action on his first play, and he shot over the goal on his second.
But it was AZ that took the lead in the 56th minute. In a packed goal area, Guus Til sent the ball against the ropes after a corner kick. It was well deserved, as Joh van den Brom’s team was very well organized, and Ajax was unable to come up with any solutions. Also, the visitors were very sloppy when in possession of the ball.
In the last fifteen minutes, Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s job was to erase the deficit. The striker, who is still looking for his 100th Eredivisie goal for Ajax, came in for David Neres. Earlier, Schöne had been substituted out for Noa Lang. The Hunter’s first contact with the ball was an amazing header which was fished out from under the crossbar by Marco Bizot. The outstanding AZ goalie did the same thing later on a hard shot by Mazraoui.
The final minutes were very exciting. Tagliafico sent in a hard shot. AZ then countered, but Onana made another great save. Van de Beek had the ultimate chance to score the 1-1 goal, but his shot went over. Because Ajax was hunting for the tying goal, the Alkmaar forwards had a lot of room to manoeuver. They didn’t manage to do anything with this, and the score remained1-0.