Ajax and AZ fail to score in entertaining topper, PSV smiling third

Ajax and AZ fail to score in entertaining topper, PSV smiling third

NOS Football

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Ajax was unable to wash away the hangover from the lost cup final against PSV. In an attractive topper against AZ, Ajax had the better of the game, but failed to get the ball between the posts: 0-0.

Because AZ also failed to capitalize on the chances it did get, Ajax does retain third place in the premier league. PSV, which earlier in the evening won with difficulty 1-0 against Sparta, is the laughing third and as number two in the premier league can hardly escape the ticket for the preliminary round of the Champions League.

Attractive start

The duel at the Johan Cruijff Arena – where the rain gushed in through the opened roof – started quite nicely with headers from Brian Brobbey and Vangelis Pavlidis, a poke from Jens Odgaard and a fine curl from Mohammed Kudus.

After more than a quarter of an hour, AZ had its first giant chance: Tijjani Reijnders popped up free in front of Ajax goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli after a splitting pass from Yuki Sugawara. Reijnders hesitated too long, allowing the Argentine goalie to snatch the ball away, and Myron van Brederode and Sven Nijmans were also unable to deal with the rebound.

Three minutes later it was almost a hit at the other end. The industrious Steven Bergwijn cut inside and left AZ goalkeeper Mathew Ryan defenseless with a thunderous blast, but to his relief the ball flew back into the field via the inside of the post.

Steven Bergwijn slaps his hands in front of his eyes.

That was not the end of the chances. For example, Brobbey got wind of the situation when he just failed to head a slightly too high cross from Dusan Tadic into the goal. To the incomprehension of the running Kudus, who could have got to the ball a lot better at the back of the wide striker.

Brobbey will probably think longer about the chance just before halftime. Davy Klaassen set him free in front of goal with a subtle touch, but Brobbey failed to choose a corner and again pounced on goalkeeper Ryan.

In the rebound, Bergwijn again hit the aluminum, the top of the crossbar this time.

Odgaard drops out injured

AZ’s game plan was limited to waiting and taking advantage of quick turnovers, and with that the Alkmaarders did become dangerous.

The loss of striker Jens Odgaard – an important pawn in that switch – was therefore a setback. The Dane was stretchered off the field two weeks ago against RKC, was a doubt shortly before the game with Ajax and will remain so ahead of the Conference League semi-final against West Ham United next Thursday.

Even before halftime, Odgaard sought the locker room with a bag of ice. His replacement was Mayckel Lahdo.

Jens Odgaard in duel with Steven Bergwijn

Ajax coach John Heitinga had his own concerns, and we are not talking about his uncertain position for the upcoming season. After halftime, Kudus also proved not fit enough to continue playing.

Heitinga solved that by bringing Owen Wijndal into the team and moving youngster Jorrel Hato to the center.

Lahdo hits the post

A gamble or not, in the second half it was only Ajax that punched the clock. AZ barely showed up offensively and had to go back with many players to counter Ajax’s waves of attack.

That worked out quite well, as Ajax was unable to find the free man in the rush. Tadic came closest to scoring the opening goal from a free kick, but his shot, which Clasie changed direction, went just wide of the post.

In the last quarter of the match, AZ came out of its shell and was almost successful. Substitute Lahdo lashed in from about twenty meters, but his slide miraculously rolled past the Ajax goal via the inside of the post.

While the belief in a good outcome already seemed gone in the stands, Bergwijn thought to give Ajax the win after all, but his shot was cleverly tapped out of the corner by goalkeeper Ryan.

Then, once again, the frustrations got the better of Edson Álvarez. However, his tap against Sam Beukema’s head went unpunished. And so Ajax remained without a win over Feyenoord, PSV or AZ for the first time in an entire premier league season.

Watch reactions from Ajax coach John Heitinga, AZ coach Pascal Jansen and players Kenneth Taylor and Tijjani Reijnders below.

Kayleigh Williams