Ajax washes away hangover European elimination with difficult win over Vitesse
Watch the summary of Vitesse – Ajax
Ajax struggled to win at Vitesse in the premier league: 1-2. The Arnheimers took a brutal lead through Marco van Ginkel, but Davy Klaassen and Edson Álvarez eventually gave Ajax three important points.
With the fifth league win in a row, coach John Heitinga and Ajax stay on the trail of leaders Feyenoord, who also won today (4-2 at Fortuna Sittard) and still have a margin of three points.
Ajax was eager to wash away the hangover from this week’s painful defeat against Union Berlin in the Europa League. However, with Vitesse, Ajax faced a club against which they had played a draw twice in the last two games (twice 2-2).
As against the Germans, Heitinga’s team had the ball in Arnhem without initially converting possession into goals. Vitesse lurked on the counter against Ajax’s vulnerable defense with the speedy Million Manhoef, a weekly standout for the Arnheimers.
Battle plan Vitesse works (almost)
Vitesse coach Phillip Cocu saw his battle plan executed almost perfectly after half an hour. Manhoef was sent deep, kept the overview and gave the ball on a silver platter to Matus Bero. The striker failed to give his team the lead and hit goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli, who was the loser against Union Berlin on Thursday.
Moments later, Vitesse scored. Van Ginkel rose above everyone on a corner kick and headed in perfectly.
Ajax, which until then had only come to a few small chances despite more than eighty percent ball possession, came alongside two minutes later. Vitesse could not handle a free kick properly and the ball eventually fell at the feet of Davy Klaassen. The midfielder, who has a patent on important goals, easily tapped in.
The goal gnawed at Cocu because Klaassen was offside at the moment of the free kick. However, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was still between them, creating a new situation and eliminating offside. “In my eyes, but maybe I’m old-fashioned, it’s offside. He took advantage of his offside situation. That was a bit of a gulp for us.”
Heitinga spoke of a “terrible first half” despite the equalizer. “It had to come from afar. We were very sloppy on the ball and too static. I wanted to see a lot more changes of position.”
Without playing brilliantly, Ajax nevertheless took the lead after just under an hour of play. Álvarez, who played in midfield after halftime due to the substitution of Calvin Bassey for Steven Berghuis, headed hard in from a corner kick by Dusan Tadic.
A relief for the Mexican, who saw his previous 38 goal attempts fail, but now scored his first goal of the season.
Watch the reaction of John Heitinga and Davy Klaassen (Ajax) and Phillip Cocu and Million Manhoef (Vitesse) below.
Vitesse then started taking risks, creating more and more space. Ajax did not manage to take advantage of this. The unfortunate Steven Bergwijn had a good chance, but his attempt went well over. The outside player, who had been dry for almost a thousand minutes, was substituted for Brian Brobbey not long after.
The substitute had two excellent opportunities to decide the match in the closing stages. First he shot the ball wide, a few minutes later he headed wide.
Vitesse wants a penalty kick
Vitesse had been dangerous once before that through Manhoef, but again Rulli was important for Ajax. The goalkeeper managed to turn the flaming shot with a good save.
Five minutes before time, everything and everyone at Vitesse was still screaming for a penalty kick after Devyne Rensch grabbed Vitesse player Romaric Yapi by the shirt. But the referee and VAR thought it was too little for a penalty.