Last Saturday was a historic night for everyone at AFC Ajax. De Godenzonen thrashed NAC Breda 0-8 in what was the club’s largest away win in league history. Not only that, but it was also the greatest Eredivisie away win since 1963, when Feyenoord downed Volendam by eight goals to nil.
This season has been broiled with much controversy and stress. Marcel Keizer’s tactical paradigm, many players’ underperformance, and an early European exit have been cumulating under the dark shadow of Abdelhak Nouri’s health condition. However, the night of November 18th provided an hour-and-a-half of pure magic. The question still lingers: how did Ajax manage to score eight goals?
1) Matthijs de Ligt (13’)
The festival of goals began thirteen minutes from kickoff, when Lasse Schøne sent in a curling corner kick. Matthijs de Ligt had broken free from his marker and, using his strength and height, powered a header into the unguarded left portion of the goal.
2) Donny van de Beek (18’)
It didn’t take long for Ajax to get back on the front foot. Justin Kluivert played a smart give-and-go pass with Hakim Ziyech, and the Moroccan’s through ball unlocked yards of space for the young Dutch winger. Kluivert waited for a trailing Donny van de Beek to get to the near post, where the Netherlands international prodded the ball into the net. If Kasper Dolberg hadn’t been flattened by his marker, the Dane probably would’ve been the one to score.
3) Donny van de Beek (26’)
Lasse Schøne drifted wide to receive the ball, and his no-look pass allowed van de Beek to cut out his marker and get a shot off with his weaker left foot. The shot took a deflection and soared past the ‘keeper. Donny really showed his mobility and quickness in this play, as well as his confidence to roam around the box to create chances. What a player!
4) David Neres (29’)
Schøne really must be given a lot of credit for this goal. The angle of the pass he made to Neres while being closed down was superb. Granted, David Neres’ pass in the box was bounced off Angeliño and right back to him, but it was still a great overall play. The Brazilian found himself 1v1 with the ‘keeper and his shot was a difficult one to save.
Also, can we talk about that celebration? The rest of the squad has a lot to live up to in terms of dance moves. Maybe we’ll have to wait until Danilo Pereira makes it to the first team.
5) Matthijs de Ligt (33’)
The final goal of the first half is possibly the best of the bunch. Ziyech loops in a majestic free kick that falls just behind the defensive line. De Ligt is right there, having made a perfectly timed run. It’s really quite remarkable from a center-back – normally you’d only see that awareness displayed by a seasoned forward. That was a brace of goals for Matthijs, who was one of the team’s top performers on the night.
6) Lasse Schøne (66’)
Matthijs de Ligt can also take a lot of credit for having created the chance for the sixth goal. The defender brought the ball down in the box and gave substitute Frenkie de Jong the chance to win it. He was fouled, and Schøne finished the penalty.
7) Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (73’)
The video really shows how poor NAC’s defending on the night was. After his shot is blocked, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar waltzes right up to the six-yard box completely unmarked. Ziyech’s pin-point delivery makes this goal almost too easy for the veteran striker.
8) Donny van de Beek (75’)
After some brilliant dribbling and a one-two with Hakim Ziyech, Frenkie de Jong passed across the box to an open Van de Beek. All it took was a simple fake shot to get past one defender, and before you know it the ball is in the back of the net. Donny deservedly took the plaudits on the night with his hat trick, which was made even more special when you consider that the 20-year-old had just recently made his Dutch National Team debut.
Soak it in. Drink it in. There may not be a win quite this emphatic for years to come. One thing is for sure, though; this Ajax team is very talented. A lot of the issues this season stem from complacency, lack of confidence, and somewhat of a hangover due to a rise in pressure following last season’s fantastic performances. Wij zijn Ajax! Wij zijn de beste!