Kudus helps Ajax to tough win over NEC, much to the frustration of standout Cillessen
Watch the summary of Ajax – NEC
It didn’t go easy against NEC, but a goal by Mohammed Kudus gave Ajax a 1-0 win in front of their own crowd. This keeps the Amsterdammers in the Eredivisie on the trail of leaders Feyenoord, who are three points ahead.
A remarkable series also remained intact. In 42 home games, Ajax had never lost to NEC. Moreover, it was the 1,500th premiership victory for Ajax.
With former Ajax players Jasper Cillessen and Lasse Schöne in the starting lineup, the visitors’ organization was right and NEC made it a real match. The home side did have the upper hand and most and best chances. Steven Berghuis was close to an early goal with a shot on the crossbar.
Cillessen was on target for NEC, saving shots by Berghuis and Steven Bergwijn and seeing a shot by the latter end up in the side netting after a smooth combination between Dusan Tadic and Jurriën Timber. At the other end, NEC was threatening at times, especially through Landry Dimata.
Besides Cillessen, Schöne was also needed to keep the NEC goal clean. The midfielder saved Bergwijn’s effort. He sprained his ankle and the Dane did not return to the pitch after halftime.
Watch reactions from Jasper Cillessen, John Heitinga, Steven Bergwijn and Rogier Meijer below.
Without Schöne, NEC was unable to hold on to the 0-0 in the second half. Bart van Rooij lost the ball under pressure from Bergwijn and Tadic, and from the Serbian’s cross Mohammed Kudus tapped in the 1-0 at the first post with Souffian El Karouani at his back.
The unnecessary ball loss and unfortunate counter goal caused anger among Cillessen, who saw his plan to keep the nil in the Johan Cruijff Arena fall apart. After a fine attack, Magnus Mattsson could have equalized quickly, but the NEC striker’s approach was insufficient.
NEC smells blood
Ajax’s play did not improve in the remainder of the second half and NEC smelled blood. Substitute Anthony Musaba shot wide in the closing stages. The lackluster Ajax managed to secure the victory and the three points after the break.
Like rivals Feyenoord, PSV and AZ, the Amsterdammers won 1-0 this weekend.