Win against Heracles builds confidence

Win against Heracles builds confidence

Ajax won its away game against Heracles Almelo on Saturday. After Mounir El Hamdaoui’s opening goal, Rasmus Lindgren, André Ooijer and Miralem Sulejmani joined in on the scoring. The 1-4 win builds Ajax’s confidence for the week ahead.

Ajax played its second away game on artificial turf within a week at Heracles Almelo. Their first meeting of the week on artificial turf wasn’t one to remember for the team from Amsterdam. Their match in Rotterdam ended in a 2-2 tie. Their midweek home game against sc Heerenveen was celebrated with a 3-1 win.

In this third match of the week, hopes were pinned on the man currently creating a sensation in the Ajax jersey. Mounir El Hamdaoui struck gold beautifully twice on Wednesday against the Fries team. In Rotterdam, against his old club Excelsior, the Dutch Moroccan had also scored. Ajax’s razor sharp number 9 made headlines on the artificial turf in Almelo, too. After fifteen minutes of play, the striker scored, putting Ajax ahead. The goal that made it 1-0 was perhaps less stunning than El Hamdaoui’s last two, but it was once again pure class. Left back Vurnon Anita led the attack. Via Urby Emanuelson and Luis Suarez, the ball landed with top scorer El Hamdaoui. The Ajax player played around keeper Remco Pasveer, shooting in convincingly.

On Saturday, El Hamdaoui scored his eleventh competition goal so far this season, bumping Ricky van Wolfswinkel out of the top spot of the scoring classifications. The Woudenberg native can try to reclaim his position on Sunday, when FC Utrecht meets ADO Den Haag. Until that match’s kick off, Ajax boasts the current Eredivisie top scorer.

After a few good saves by Maarten Stekelenburg in front of the full Folkert Velten stand, Ajax gave up the tying goal seven minutes before the break. As the game was in a rougher phase (annoyances on both sides), Willie Overtoom positioned himself into an ideal position. The attacking midfielder sent the ball past Stekelenburg’s reach, into to the upper corner: 1-1. The team from Almelo’s hard work paid off with a goal.

Shortly after the break, Ajax made a narrow escape after an attempt by former Ajax player Kwame Quansah. The midfielder chipped the ball from the edge of the box, over Stekelenburg, onto the crossbar. With Christian Eriksen on field (in for Eyong Enoh), Ajax gained in creativity. The young Dane had just come onto the field when Vurnon Anita couldn’t cash in on a golden opportunity. Less than a minute later, the full Ajax visitors’ stand cheered on, as the rest of the sold out Polman Stadium fell still. Rasmus Lindgren took a shot from far, which landed in the upper corner. In addition to his forwards, Martin Jol has at least on midfielder who can score great goals.

Fellow midfielder Demy de Zeeuw was relegated to the bench by Jol. The former AZ player was granted time to let his leg injury heal. Ajax needs a fit De Zeeuw looking forward to the important upcoming Champions League match against AJ Auxerre (Wednesday, on French grass). André Ooijer once ahead got the nod instead of Toby Alderweireld on defence. But the steady player will sit out a suspension against Auxerre. Due to Oleguer’s nose injury, Alderweireld has a good shot at making the squad in the all- important Champions League group G return match. The Spanish defender is on the selection for the away game. “If needed, Oleguer could play”, said Martin Jol at the post Heracles Almelo – Ajax match. “But, with a broken nose, and a mask, it’s hard to play.”

The Belgian watched on as Ooijer helped the team to1-3 in the last fifteen minutes. The defender extended a Suarez pass from the left, sending a header past Pasveer. The final score was beefed up thanks to a goal from substitute Miralem Sulejmani. Four minutes after coming in for Anita (the left defender has a light hamstring injury) the Serbian player took a shot with his left foot, which slid under Pasveer. Ajax took advantage of the room to play that Heracles gave them during the closing phase. This generous win on artificial grass should give Ajax the confidence they need for their trip to France, which starts this Tuesday.

“Heracles is a team which plays well, and are tactically quite strong”, determined Jol during the press conference. “In the second half, we played to our strengths much better. I’m satisfied with the win. With a bit more luck and finesse in the box, we could have scored more goals.”

Ajax’s direct competitors for the championship met on Saturday night in Eindhoven. Current champion FC Twente posted a 0-1 win against PSV in Brabant. As a result, the club from Enschede, with 28 points, is in the lead. PSV and Ajax are both one point behind, with the team from Eindhoven enjoying the better goal difference.

Keep an eye on Ajax TV for reactions after the game, and a summary of Heracles Almelo – Ajax.