After a dominant victory against Willem II in the Dutch Cup, Ajax hosted bottom-placed PEC Zwolle with a hope of closing down leaders Feyenoord.
Hopes of another dominant night looked all but lost, however, after a nervous start led to a PEC goal after only 5 minutes of play. Wout Brama fired a well placed shot into the bottom left corner, beating goalkeeper Onana. Not the best start for the Amsterdammers.
Ajax were quick to respond to going behind, with Davinson Sànchez grabbing an equaliser only minutes later. A quick burst of pace from Younes put Ajax in attacking shape, ultimately winning a corner, which ended up with the Sanchez heading it past keeper Van der Hart from a few yards out.
Sànchez’s goal had inspired confidence in Ajax, and the shaky passing and movement from the opening moments had soon been forgotten. PEC struggled to gain possession, let alone put together another attack to punish the Amsterdam side. Danny Holla picked up the first caution of the game, after a late tackle of Joel Veltman, who had brilliantly worked the ball up the field after a PEC attack.
Chances continued to come, and Ajax were relentlessly pressing and recovering any time the ball drifted from their attacking third. Attempts from Traoré and Younes couldn’t get past Van der Hart, however, and despite their control of the match, Ajax couldn’t pull ahead. At the other end of the pitch, Queensy Menig almost fired his side ahead, but Onana saved his shot. Achahbar came close to converting the resulting corner, heading just wide.
The game balanced, with attempts at goal coming at both ends of the pitch, and plenty of battles and challenges in the midfield. It was Ajax who came out ahead, with Sànchez picking up his second of the night, with another headed attempt, from Ziyech’s corner. The Colombian defender again proved the presence and strength he brings to the team.
A few issues in the first half, but a solid performance nonetheless from the Amsterdammers. A deserved lead heading into the break.
Half Time Score: Ajax 2 – 1 PEC Zwolle
Ajax came out after the break as the better side, getting straight back into applying pressure to PEC Zwolle’s defensive line. It didn’t take long until they could capitalise on the attacking pressure, as Ziyech placed a perfect through ball to Kasper Dolberg, who finished well under pressure.
Ajax were on fire, with everything going right, and the goals were coming to prove it. Traoré, picking up the ball just after the half-way line, went on a fantastic run through the defence, and cooly finished to truly put Zwolle out of the contest.
The night continued to get better and better for Ajax, when Dolberg fired an audacious shot from outside the box, which bounced down off the crossbar. After a moment of uncertainty, the goal-line technology confirmed that the ball did marginally cross the line, giving Dolberg an incredible goal.
Lasse Schöne became the first player substituted, making way for Jairo Riedewald in the 67th minute.
The story remained the same as the clock ticked away; Ajax dominated possession, piling the pressure on the PEC back line, while the visiting team struggled to string together more than a few passes. Traoré came close to extending the lead again, after smoothly working his way through the box, but his shot was blocked by Van der Hart.
Dolberg made way for Mateo Cassierra, walking off to a chorus of applause after a great performance. Captain Davy Klaassen also went off, letting Van de Beek onto the pitch for the final ten minutes.
Ajax saw out the closing minute of the game with ease, holding onto the ball and preventing the visiting team from creating much of anything.
A dominant and impressive second half saw Ajax shut down every attempt that PEC Zwolle could muster, whilst creating chance after chance at the other end. Quite possibly the best half of football under Peter Bosz, and a fantastic sign of things to come. Title credentials: Proven.
Full Time Score: Ajax 5 – 1 PEC Zwolle