PSV wins battle for second place convincingly over Ajax, game temporarily suspended
Watch the summary of PSV – Ajax
It was a battle for second place between PSV and Ajax in Eindhoven, and that battle was won convincingly by the home side: 3-0. With four rounds of play to go in the premier league, PSV now has three points ahead of the rival. The game was briefly halted in 60th minute after a plastic cup was thrown onto the pitch.
Ajax was warned, coach John Heitinga was warned. PSV’s strength is in the air. “We have to defend those moments well and take out crosses,” Heitinga said beforehand. “We are constantly working on that, even apart from PSV. Winning personal duels and defending the penalty area well.”
That’s exactly how PSV hurt Ajax in the first half. Right winger Johan Bakayoko regularly outplayed 17-year-old Ajax left back Jorrel Hato and in the center, Calvin Bassey, the replacement for the suspended Edson Álvarez, and Jurriën Timber had to pull out all the stops to contain Luuk de Jong.
De Jong kicks PSV into the lead
Soon the first cross came from the right, from Jordan Teze, and goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli punched the ball away before De Jong could head in. A low cross from Bakayoko was missed by Guus Til, and in the 13th minute it was on target. Bakayoko passed Hato, crossed and De Jong headed in beautifully despite opposition from Timber.
Once again it was Luuk de Jong who scored against Ajax. The 32-year-old captain scored once in each of his last 5 PSV premier league games against Ajax. Only Spitz Kohn (5) and Dirk Kuijt (5) were also treacherous in at least 5 consecutive premier league games against Ajax.
PSV’s danger continued to come from the right flank even after that opening goal, although the good crosses became more sparse and Hato got a little more control over Bakayoko. At the other end, Ajax showed little. After a cross from Davy Klaassen, Kenneth Taylor had an opportunity, but Til saved with a slide.
Ex-PSV player Steven Bergwijn, whistled out by the Eindhoven fans, shot a meter wide and into the hands of goalkeeper Walter Benitez just before halftime. With striker Brian Brobbey for defender Bassey, Ajax coach Heitinga attempted a turnaround at halftime.
Bakayoko continued delivering crosses. Just after halftime, Joey Veerman was the receiver over the ground. The Volendam midfielder’s shot was caught by Rulli. Just off the flank, Bakayoko could have put PSV up 2-0 five minutes after halftime. He received the ball from Simons, but shot wide with his left.
Simons exploits penalty kick
Through the center of the defense, where Florian Grillitsch had taken Bassey’s place, Ajax was suddenly vulnerable as well. After Brobbey lost the ball, Veerman sent Simons into the depths and the latter was just ahead of Rulli, who pulled the emergency brake. Serdar Gözübüyük decisively pointed to the spot.
Xavi Simons, who celebrated his 20th birthday two days ago, got behind the ball himself and shot his fifteenth goal of the season neatly into the corner.
PSV was not yet in safe harbor. Brobbey was close to the tying goal and in the 60th minute a spectator made an attempt to block PSV’s way to a win.
Cup towards Berghuis
A cup flew in the direction of Ajacied Steven Berghuis and Gözübüyük had no choice but to send the teams inside according to the new guidelines. The referee’s disappointment was visible and PSV players also expressed their anger toward the stand in question.
PSV fan throws plastic cup towards Berghuis, duel with Ajax temporarily suspended
No one was hit and after a cooling off period both teams returned to the pitch. Ajax came out of the forced break stronger and from a shot by Kenneth Taylor that ricocheted off both posts, it became clear that the battle was not yet over.
As raindrops fell from the sky, fortunately no plastic cups, PSV decided the match. Veerman gave a beautiful pass with the outside right to Simons, who served Luuk de Jong. Whether through Grillitsch or not, the ball went into the net. The match was over, although Brobbey hit the post.
Ajax and PSV meet again next week in the final of the KNVB Cup. In the league, the Amsterdammers have a tough job to catch up with PSV. Ajax last finished outside the top-2 in the 2008/2009 season. Then Ajax finished third.
Watch reactions from Xavi Simons, Ruud van Nistelrooij, Luuk de Jong, John Heitinga and Steven Berghuis below.