Another Sunday, another win for Ajax

It’s becoming like a stuck record on Sundays for Ajax- win, clean sheet, domination.

Since the winter break, Peter Bosz’s side have notched 11 goals, conceded just 1 and- most importantly- taken a maximum of 15 points from the 5 games played. This would be crucial in any title race, but even more so when the leaders have also continued to sweep aside their opponents week after week with an almost identical ease.

This afternoon’s performance from the Amsterdammers was exactly what we have come to expect under Peter Bosz and this Ajax side. Meticulous, dominant and skilful, with just the right amount of grit and determination thrown in for good measure. Yet again the only frustrating thing for the Ajax boss will be the amount of missed chances from his side, and the fact that the margin of victory was not greater.

Before kick-off, the club paid tribute to former winger and Ajacied legend Piet Keizer, who sadly passed away recently at the age of 73.

Keizer scored 189 goals in 490 games for the Amsterdam heavyweights and, together with his late teammate Johan Cruyff, helped Ajax to three straight European Cup titles from 1971-73.

An 11th minute applause in his honour was a moving sight in the Arena, and seemed to almost serve to energize the Ajax players to play on in Keizer’s memory.

Burkina Faso star Bertrand Traore was restored to the starting line up by Peter Bosz (the only change from last week’s 2-0 victory at Roda) upon his return from a successful Afcon campaign where he helped the Stallions to a third place finish after defeating Ghana in the 3rd place play off last Saturday.

Occupying his familiar usual spot in the front three alongside Dolberg and Amin Younes the West African star didn’t disappoint as he opened the scoring in empathic fashion.

After receiving the ball from Dolberg near the corner flag, the former Chelsea man twisted and dazzled past three defenders as he made his way to the box before firing a low reverse shot from the edge, leaving Roy Kortsmit rooted to the spot in the visitor’s goal and unable to react as the ball rolled beyond him into the net.

The strike was the 21-year-old’s fifth of the season in Ajax colours, perhaps his best yet.

Fellow African, Moroccan – Hakim Ziyech – was equally impressive for de Godenzonen. The 23-year-old raced through a few challenges early in the second before laying off to Dolberg who made it 2-0.

Since arriving from FC Twente early in the season, Ziyech –who was a surprise omission from Morocco’s Afcon squad- has made 18 appearances, scored six and assisted a further six.

Andre Onana – who withdrew himself from eventual Afcon winners Cameroon- also saw the game through as he continue to be Bosz’ first choice goalkeeper. Meanwhille, Guinean Mathias Pogba –brother of Manchester United star Paul and Saint-Etienne defender Florentin- watched on from Sparta’s bench, despite his mightily impressive return of 4 goals in his last 5 appearances.

The rest of the game saw Ajax completely dominate possession but they couldn’t add any other goals with Traore hitting the post, and Amin Younes missing two great chances after doing all the hard work, while Frenkie de Jong had a lovely strike pushed wide.

The talking point of this game though could well be a moment of madness, perhaps ‘banter’, from Joel Veltman. With Traore down injured infield grasping his leg, Veltman (in possesion) waved to the oncoming defender to stop to allow the forward to receive treatment.

With his opposite man slowing and turning for a stoppage, Veltman sensed an opportunity and quickly shot off down the wing much to the bemusement (and subsequent anger) of the entire Sparta side who did not quite see the funny side of his prank. Thankfully, for the sake of Veltman at least, it did not result in a goal.

If the rest of the Ajax side can be half as ruthless as the centre-back in the coming months, then the title race is sure to throw up a few surprises just yet!

Speaking after the game, manager Peter Bosz said, “We played a good game and created plenty of chances, but should’ve scored more. We just weren’t clinical in front of goal.”

“Sparta parked the bus so we had to break down their wall first. Our high pressing was excellent and resulted in that second goal.”

Next up for de Godenzonen, a trip to Arnhem to take on a Vitesse side sure to be licking their wounds from a shocking 2-0 home reverse against Willem II.

As shown with their cup exploits and recent 2-0 quarter-final triumph against Feyenoord though, Vitesse-on their day- are a real force to be reckoned with, and must not be underestimated by Bosz or his players if they are to maintain such red-hot form and remain firmly in the hunt for the title.