SUNDAY 3RD AUGUST 2014
AJAX 0 – 1 PEC ZWOLLE
PEC Zwolle defeated Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 in Amsterdam to win the 2014 Johan Cruijff Schaal. The Amsterdammers won their fourth consecutive league title last year while the Blauwvingers defeated Ajax handily to win their first ever KNVB Beker.
Ajax came into the match with a few new faces and some revenge to enact. Zwolle started the match looking to build off last year’s cup final win and start the 2014-2015 campaign off on a bright note.
The game began with Ajax nearly netting a chance inside of ten minutes, only to hit the post. As a result of the chance, new acquisition Nick Viergever picked up a knee injury. He tried to carry on but was eventually replaced by South African midfielder Thulani Serero.
The early chance was as close as Ajax would get all evening. Much of the game was played at nothing more than a walking pace. Ajax struggled to break down the Zwolle defence and create opportunities and the best chances came from a few Lasse Schöne free-kicks, with Zwolle keeper Diederik Boer making a couple class saves.
Ajax were missing three of their normal starters in Jasper Cillessen, Daley Blind and Joël Veltman. All three are resting after playing in the World Cup for the Dutch National Team. While Kenneth Vermeer filled in capably for Cillessen, the absence of Veltman and Blind were evident.
The backline looked in disarray at times as Nicolai Boilesen and Ruben Ligeon gave away too much space and let the Zwolle attackers in behind too often. Ligeon had a poor afternoon, giving the ball away far too easily, finding himself out of position time and time again and adding very little in attack and build-up play.
Niklas Moisander looked frustrated throughout the night, playing alongside three relatively inexperienced defenders in Boilesen, Mike van der Hoorn and Ligeon. The Zwolle attackers took advantage, as they had their way on the wings. The likes of Stef Nijland, Mustafa Saymak, Jesper Drost and Kamohelo Mokotjo created problems for the Ajax midfield and defence all match. Going forward, Blind’s penetrating passing ability was missed. The only player who dared to play such balls was Davy Klaassen, however most were unsuccessful. Klaassen played in a deeper role than he is used to, and it showed as he was largely ineffective.
For Zwolle, Mokotjo controlled the defensive midfield and played the role that Blind typically plays for Ajax. Mokotjo was crucial for Zwolle as he dispossessed the Ajax attack numerous times and started a few dangerous counters. He assisted Zwolle’s only goal on one of these said counters, a brilliant cross to Stef Nijland. Mokotjo has been linked to Ajax recently and his performance today will only fuel those transfer talks.
Another key cog for Zwolle was goalkeeper Diederik Boer, ironically also linked with a move to Ajax this summer. Boer controlled his penalty area confidently throughout the match He added two nice saves on Lasse Schöne free-kicks to go along with his quality distribution.
The talk around Ajax after this match will be whether another attacking option is needed. Loanee Arkadiusz Milik was very quiet while Ricardo Kishna and Ahmed El Ghazi are still very young, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is said to be on his way out and Viktor Fischer is out injured until the new year.
In Zwolle, expectations are higher than ever. Can Ron Jans deliver? After two straight trophy wins against Ajax, the Blauwvingers’ faithful believe anything is possible. Another deep KNVB Beker run, a competitive Europa League showing, and a top six finish would be a success. They have the manager and squad to do it.
AJAX: Vermeer, Ligeon, Van der Hoorn, Moisander, Boilesen, Klaassen, Viergever (Serero 39), Andersen, Schöne, Milik (Sigthorsson 82), Kishna (El Ghazi 60).
SUBS NOT USED: Leeuwenbergh, Tete, Denswil, Duarte.
BOOKINGS: Moisander 45.
ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Broerse, Van Hintum, Mokotjo, Rienstra, Saymak, Drost, Thomas (Karagounis 62), Nijland (Ioannidis 68).
SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Lam, Pereira, Dekker, Mahmudov.
GOALS: Nijland 55.
BOOKINGS: Van Polen 50, Rienstra 54, Van Hintum 83, Ioannidis 90.
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