Despite conceding a fourth minute opener, Ajax recovered efficiently and romped home to a significant 5-1 victory on Saturday evening. Despite some generous defending by PEC Zwolle, Ajax will surely be satisfied with a comprehensive win, and netting five goals for the second successive match.

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Just four minutes in, a familiar feeling and collective sigh blanketed the ArenA. Ajax were caught cold, and found themselves a goal down to Zwolle’s Wout Brama. The worrying pattern of making life difficult has besieged Ajax at home recently, and Saturday evening’s early evidence suggested there was more to come. However fast forward ninety minutes, and the Amsterdammer’s were celebrating a rout.

Along with Bertrand Traore’s first league goal of the season, impressive Colombian defender, Davinson Sanchez, bagged a brace, and the ever-effective Kasper Dolberg also netted twice. Sanchez appears to grow in stature and composure week by week, and richly deserved the plaudits of his two goals. Coupled with a solid defensive display, Sanchez’s goalscoring exploits lay further claim that Ajax have unearthed another star in the making. Though Zwolle were more than obliging guests at the ArenA, Ajax slowly but surely became dominant and fluid. Following some subtle tweaks in tactics and personnel, Peter Bosz may just have clicked Ajax into gear and found their rhythm.

Ajax’s reaction to conceding an early goal suggested that the evening had something other than more frustration in store. A partisan crowd quickly regrouped, and the decision to encourage rather than let disdain linger was almost palpable. Sanchez headed his first goal just four minutes after Brama opened the scoring, and there was only one winner thereafter. However, despite clicking into gear and seeing Sanchez double his tally in the eight minute, it took some sharp saves from Andre Onana for Ajax to go in leading at the break.

Midway through the second half, one-touch passing burst on to an already impressive canvas. Neat triangles popped up in defence and midfield, and, confidently and artistically, broke through the lines to set-up wave after wave of attack. “Ole’s” roared from a crowd, a collective rarely whipped up into anything other than disdain in recent weeks. One such attack led to Bertrand Traore waltzing through the Zwolle back line to score Ajax’s fourth goal. Felling three defenders with one drop of the shoulder, Traore looked a man transformed as he slotted into a gaping net.

Watching Ajax has often been a frustrating and painful experience this season. Early exchanges in the Eredivisie evidenced a team, indeed a squad and manager, searching for rhythm. Fluidity in the attacking third has been particularly hard to come by. However, deploying Traore in his more natural wide-right berth alleviated more than a couple of challenges. In being able to receive the ball in more space, and with even more space to run into, Traore was transformed. The two-tonne medallion of pressure which hung round his neck playing as the focal point, removed. Traore no longer gave the impression of a man playing a role he didn’t quite believe in, instead he was bright, energetic, and made things happen.

Responsibility rested upon young shoulders in the middle of Ajax’s front three. Kasper Dolberg, a consistent bringer of industry and effectiveness, took his tally to four goals in three Eredivisie starts, and looks far more suited to the role despite his tender years. His brace coming courtesy of a tidy and composed end to a strong run, and an utter thunderbolt which Hawkeye confirmed as crossing the line after lambasting itself off the crossbar.

In keeping faith with another change from the mid-week KNVB cup tie, manager Peter Bosz kept Jairo Riedewald on the bench. Lasse Schöne was again favoured in a defensive midfield role, and performed solidly. Both in terms of positional discipline, and retaining possession, Schöne shone. His performance further evidence of Ajax finding a little swagger with the discipline to back it up.

Despite flitting in and out of the game, both Hakim Ziyech and Amin Younes consistently offered a moment of magic, if not quite being able to deliver. Similar statements could be said of Davy Klaassen, too. For all his creative talents, and being Ajax’s current top scorer, his anonymity in a 5-1 win could well be labeled the only blemish on an otherwise sparkling performance in the ArenA.

Glenn Billingham (6 Posts)