Ajax lost an insane ‘relegation cracker’ at FC Utrecht 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. The team of coach Maurice Steijn fought back from a 2-0 deficit, but still took the next hard blow.
A much changed Ajax played stiffly and at a low tempo for quite some time. The team from Amsterdam faced a 2-0 deficit after 47 minutes. Before half time, Ryan Flamingo scored on behalf of FC Utrecht, after which Mike van der Hoorn doubled the score just after half time.
Ajax came back into the match out of nowhere. Kristian Hlynsson, who started instead of Steven Berghuis, first turned in a failed shot from Borna Sosa. Two minutes later he scored again on a pass from Sosa. Ajax even made it 2-3 thanks to a striking penalty from Steven Bergwijn.
Steijn’s team seemed to be going for its first victory since August 24, but still gave it away completely. Jens Toornstra scored the 3-3 after 71 minutes. And after a short strike because of a cup on the field, Oscar Fraulo powered Ron Jans’ team to a 4-3 victory. The game was then temporarily stopped again, but completed.
Thanks to the victory, FC Utrecht leaves the last place, while Ajax drops to seventeenth place. The pressure on trainer Steijn will therefore increase even further. Ajax faces a tough schedule next week, with away matches against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Europa League and leader PSV in the competition.
Lack of consistency and misunderstanding among players
Steijn stated several times that he wanted to work towards a permanent starting eleven, but had to do a lot of puzzling in Utrecht. Silvano Vos was suspended. Devyne Rensch and Berghuis, who started on the bench, could not start. As a result, Benjamin Tahirovic, Anton Gaaei and Hlynsson were in the starting line-up. Sosa started in place of Gaston Ávila.
The lack of stability was noticeable in the first half with Ajax playing football at a walking pace. Players did not understand each other and looked without self-confidence. Nevertheless, Ajax had a number of opportunities in the first half. The one for Hlynnson was the biggest, but he shot wide from about eleven meters on a pass from Bergwijn.
FC Utrecht mainly showed fighting spirit and little good football, but did strike just before half time. The Ajax defense was unable to clear the ball properly, after which Flamingo shot into the penalty area with his left foot. The damage became worse for Ajax shortly after the break.
Ajax comes back, but still loses
Gorter made a good save on Van der Hoorn’s header, but did so behind the line: 2-0. FC Utrecht missed several chances to score 3-0, after which Ajax recovered from a beaten position through youngster Hlynsson. In his second starting position this season, the Icelander responded attentively by turning in Sosa’s cross with his chest.
And two minutes later he scored beautifully on a pass from the same Sosa. Ajax took the lead through Bergwijn. He converted a penalty, which Brian Brobbey earned after a foul by Hugo Novoa.
The Amsterdam team finally seemed to be winning again, but gave it away completely. Toornstra made it 3-3. In injury time, Ajax, where goalkeeper Jay Gorter was injured, was then exposed by the Domstedelingen in transition. They determined the final score via Fraulo at 4-3.
The post first appeared on www.nu.nl