with videoAfter Feyenoord, PSV and AZ, Ajax also gave little fear to the competition in the last ten rounds of the title struggle with a hard-fought victory over NEC: 1-0.
Ajax held their three-point lead over leaders Feyenoord, who also went off as contenders in this week’s KNVB Cup semi-finals, intact, but that said most of them. Just like the title contenders, Ajax gave the impression against a third contender from Gelderland in a row that they were ready for a crushing final race that would lead to a 37th championship.
Yes, coach John Heitinga’s team, which did not include Kenneth Taylor this time, was much better than NEC, but there was no doubt about the flashy performance in which Ajax, as in the last home match against Sparta, combined sets, chances. and goals. For half an hour, the Eredivisie number two had to content himself with the potential Stephen Burgess came close to scoring the opening goal with a slam dunk on the crossbar.
As Ajax increased the pressure and chances became chances, Jasper Cillessen denied Steven Bergwijn his first Eredivisie goal of the year at the short corner after breaking out with Mehmet Kudus and Duzan Tadic. He thought Bergwijn himself could still get in before half-time, had it not been for Jorjan Timber, after a great rush with Tadic, who overlooked him and slotted the ball into the side-netting.
Fear of harm
When the former Ajax player, Cillessen, came off just before half-time, he saw his teammates prevented Davy Klassen and Calvin Bassey from scoring. For example, with fresh fears of damage in the title race, Ajax went to the dressing room halfway through, after a half in which the team played very little, especially from the flanks.
That changed at the start of the second half thanks to Bart de Roig. The NEC defender has taken a lot of his form on the sidelines. Bergwijn and Tadic stole the ball from him, after which the latter found hitherto unseen Kudos. The Ghanaian tastemaker, assisted by Soufiane Karouani, scored his fifth Premier League goal in seven appearances.
And it turned out to be worth gold. Partly because Jerónimo Rulli prevented Magnus Mattsson from scoring from a difficult angle, Ajax recorded the 1,500th Eredivisie victory in the club’s history. However, it wouldn’t be written down in the books as a relief.
Just like Feyenoord (against FC Groningen), PSV (against RKC), and AZ (against Vitesse), the national champions narrowly won, in a performance that didn’t instill much fear in the competition in the remaining 10 rounds. – Lumbering title battle.
Heitinga: Victory is won
John Heitinga described Ajax’s 1-0 home win over NEC as a “commercial victory”. “We want to get the most out of the season,” the coach told ESPN. “Maybe it wasn’t the way we wanted to win. But now it’s also about the result.”
Ajax started the duel with NEC strongly. “I even thought we played very well in the first 25 minutes,” said Heitinga. , but we did not register. But we almost didn’t miss any chances throughout the match. Of course we prefer to win in a different way. But we won this victory. And that is important sometimes at this point in the season.”
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