Thursday 27th March
AZ ALKMAAR 0-1 AJAX
Ajax will face PEC Zwolle in Rotterdam on the 20th of April in the KNVB Beker final after narrowly defeating holders AZ Alkmaar tonight. It was a game with some strange refereeing decisions, but Frank de Boer can thank the heroics of goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer for the victory.
Frank de Boer’s side should have opened the scoring after twenty minutes, but AZ’s goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado stopped Daley Blind from point blank range in the area to send the AFAS Stadion into raptures. The Costa Rican stopper has had a great season and will be lining up against Italy, Uruguay and England in the World Cup finals in June.
Joël Veltman was dismissed on 33 minutes after his second bookable offence occurred within a minute of receiving his first. Referee Pol van Boekel awarded the first yellow for a trip on Roy Beerens but the second yellow nearly punished Ajax further than being reduced to ten men.
Veltman tugged on Victor Elm’s shirt in the area and Van Boekel pointed straight to the spot and sent the Ajax defender off. For the second consecutive game, American striker Aron Jóhannsson missed the spot-kick with goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer saving with ease.
At the break, Ajax made a change with Stefano Denswil slotting in at centre-back replacing Nicolas Boilesen with Blind sitting in at left-back. Within a minute of restart, Ajax found themselves on level terms with the number of players on each side and a goal up.
Swedish full-back Mattias Johansson was sent for an early bath after receiving his second yellow tripping up Lesley de Sa. Video replays showed that De Sa had indeed tripped over his own feet and AZ were unfairly reduced to ten. Danish midfielder Lasse Schöne stepped up and curled in the free-kick with great precision.
As the second half progressed, AZ started to press but attempt after attempt was thwarted by Vermeer to help his side through to the final. This was the 100th win for Ajax with Frank de Boer as the manager and he will lead his side to De Kuip on 20th April in the final. Due to the likelihood of Ajax qualifying for the Champions League, as PEC Zwolle have reached the KNVB Beker final, this almost guarantees them entry in the UEFA Europa League next season.
AZ: Esteban, Johansson, Gouweleeuw, Viergever, Poulsen, Gudelj, Ortiz (Reijnen 51), Elm, Berghuis (Gudmundsson 64), Jóhannsson (Avdic 64), Beerens.
SUBS NOT USED: De Winter, Gorter, Henriksen, Wuytens.
BOOKINGS: Johansson 39.
SENT OFF: Johansson 47.
AJAX: Vermeer, Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen (Denswil 46), Klaassen, Blind, Serero (Duarte 69), De Sa (Poulsen 73), Sigthórsson, Schöne.
SUBS NOT USED: Cillessen, Riedewald, Bojan, Kishna.
GOALS: Schöne 48.
BOOKINGS: Van Rhijn 7, Veltman 32, De Sa 71.
SENT OFF: Veltman 33.
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