Ajax does what it needs to do against Utrecht, but does not yet know where it stands
Watch the summary of Ajax – FC Utrecht
Will it be spot two, three or even four for Ajax in the Eredivisie? After a 3-1 home win over FC Utrecht and due to the results on other fields (PSV draw and AZ win), that will only become clear on the final matchday next Sunday.
Ajax, now three points behind PSV, will then visit FC Twente. AZ, which triumphed at NEC, hosts PSV.
The still uncertain Amsterdammers could therefore still qualify for Champions League soccer (second place), but could also end up in the Europa League (third place) or even the Conference League (fourth place).
After saying goodbye to sacked goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and assistant coach Michael Reiziger shortly before kickoff, Ajax went in search of a much-needed victory.
Much-needed because of the slim chance of snatching second place from PSV, although beforehand the five-point gap was considerable. But mainly also to repel the attack of number four AZ, only two points behind.
Bergwijn opens score
Ajax started the game energetically and set the tone with chances for Brian Brobbey, Dusan Tadic and Kenneth Taylor, among others. After twenty minutes of play Steven Bergwijn finally made it 1-0.
Bergwijn, who once again started as an attacking midfielder, received the ball from Owen Wijndal and then tricked Utrecht captain Nick Viergever. A successful defensive action by the newly 17-year-old Jorrel Hato preceded the goal.
Heitinga sees perspective for spot two again: ‘You have to hope for more now’
A second Amsterdam goal hung in the air, but Brobbey (header on the post) and Bergwijn (wide) forgot to express the superiority in a more advantageous margin.
Halfway through, Ajax supporters looked on their cell phones with smiles, as PSV was after all trailing 1-2 against sc Heerenveen. Virtually, with next week’s final matchday on the schedule, the deficit would thus be just two points.
Top scorer Douvikas scores
However, that scenario could be discarded shortly in the second half, as premier league top scorer Anastasios Douvikas immediately cashed in the first chance on behalf of Utrecht, which is already certain of the playoffs. The Greek got the ball from Taylor Booth, turned away from Hato and then left Geronimo Rulli without a chance.
Douvikas’ eighteenth goal, however, did not upset Ajax. After chances for Bergwijn and Mohamed Kudus (two saves Vasilis Barkas), Brobbey made it 2-1 with a nick.
In the stands, another glance at the mobiles resulted in PSV trailing 1-3. In Eindhoven, however, it still ended up 3-3. In the Johan Cruijff Arena, Davy Klaassen determined the final score 3-1 in injury time.