Ajax reaps rewards in second half

Ajax reaps rewards in second half

Ajax defeated Vitesse 4-1 on Friday. A strong second half resulted in a total of five goals, and perky play from Ajax. Man of the Match Kolbeinn Sigthórsson (2x), Derk Boerrigter and Christian Eriksen all scored for the reigning champion after the break, giving the team a 15-5 goal balance after four rounds of play.

The match against Vitesse was like a good film with a too-long introduction. An entire half, as was the case for Ajax – Vitesse. The first half of the game was typified by missed opportunities and a threatening moment courtesy of Wilfried Bony (heroically stopped at the line by Alderweireld). After the break, the match turned into an enjoyable one for the spectators, with beautiful Ajax goals. Ajax was ready to put Vitesse in its place. Last Sunday’s costly loss of points against VVV-Venlo (2-2) still gnawed at many of the Ajax players. Especially leading up to the upcoming interland week, a good result was more than welcome to avoid getting caught in a downward spiral.

Just like Ajax, Vitesse has also won seven points in the first three competition matches. In fact, this has been the best start ever for the Arnhem club. In addition to former Ajax player Jan-Arie van der Heijden, who made his debut for Vitesse last week against FC Utrecht, centre forward Wilfried Bony and Giorgio Chanturia have been outstanding during the first weeks with Vitesse. Vurnon Anita was charged with guarding the quick Georgian. Just like in the home match against sc Heerenveen, he got the nod over Daley Blind, who made some unfortunate mistakes last week against VVV last weekend.
Frank de Boer had a clear explanation for the first half’s lack of goals: “The crowd has to understand that you first need to sow the seeds before you can reap the results. We dominated the first half, and had opportunities, just like Vitesse did. But if you remain dominant, there will come a point when the opponent isn’t so brisk anymore. That’s why it’s so good that we were able to strike right after the break.”
De Boer’s explanation translated into goals. It was worth the wait when Ajax’s first goal was finally scored shortly after the break – it was a beautiful one. With a great shot into the upper corner, Christian Eriksen brought the team into a 1-0 lead. It was a great boost for the Dane, who often makes attempts from the edge of the box. He was rewarded for his efforts this time, leaving keeper Marko Merits hopeless. His sincere joy after the goal was easy to understand. Soon after the 1-0, Ajax needed to pull out all the stops not to squander their lead. Kenneth Vermeer made a great save on a dangerous header from Guram Kashia. Ajax’s keeper stretched into the corner, thus preventing Vitesse from doing anything more.

Ajax’s goal machine really starting churning ten minutes after Eriksen scored. First Boerrigter (who had put a shot onto the post in the first half) who, with flair and confidence, shot a great pass from Alderweireld into the near corner in the 62nd minute: 2-0. One minute later, Kolbeinn Sightórsson secured the win by taking advantage of a great pass from Van der Wiel, as a true centre forward should. The Icelander crept past his opponent and took a cold blooded shot at close range, making good. Sigthórsson doubled own scoring in the 71st minute. The way in which he gained control of the ball himself, led the attack and hit the mark speaks volumes about the work ethic and class of Ajax’s newest forward.

The 4-0 lead gave De Boer room to pull Anita, Eriksen and Sigthórsson to the sideline. Substitutes Boilesen, Lodeiro and Serero all wanted to contribute in the second half, which more than made up for the first forty five minutes. A clean sheet unfortunately couldn’t be maintained after Jan Vertonghen’s sloppy loss of possession at midfield, which gave Bony the opportunity to send a shot against the post. The rebound was fair game for Alexander Büttner, who slid in and took credit for Vitesse’s goal. “Shame”, said De Boer. “That goal against resulted from Jan’s arrogance. It wasn’t necessary, but he knows it. On an evening like this, you want to keep a clean sheet. That’s extra good for the team’s confidence.”

In the closing phase, Wimilio Vink made his Vitesse debut. The almost 18 year old midfielder did that on special football soil, since his father, Gery Vink, has Ajax’s ‘beloften’ in his charge. It was a nice parallel story in a performance which, after the break, deserves many stars.