Klaas Jan Huntelaar netted the only goal as Ajax defeated Groningen 1-0 to keep them on track for the Eredivisie title. Ajax held on despite Huntelaar seeing red late on.

After their heroics in Turin, Ajax returned to league action in the Euroborg with Erik ten Hag making only one change. The available again Nicolas Tagliafico came in for the injured Noussair Mazraoui. For Groningen, loanee Kaj Sierhuis started up front against his parent side.

Ajax started brightly and they got the first big chance of the game, but Matthijs de Ligt’s header came back off the post. Sergio Padt was also quick to come off his line to deny Joel Veltman.

Groningen looked dangerous on the counter and before the break they got a chance after an excellent run by Ludovit Reis but his shot went just wide.

Veltman went close for Ajax early in the second half but in the 55th minute it should have been 1-0 for Groningen. Ritsu Doan found himself completely free in on goal but the Japanese midfielder, who has been linked heavily with Ajax, rolled his shot just wide.

After that chance Ten Hag turned to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who replaced Lasse Schone. Ajax nearly broke the deadlock soon after the change but Deyovaisio Zeefuik was in the perfect spot to clear Nicolas Tagliafico’s effort of the line.

Time was running out for Ajax but in the 78th minute they made the breakthrough. Huntelaar outmuscled Tim Handwerker before firing a volley into the top corner. Groningen screamed for a foul but VAR saw nothing wrong.

Huntelaar celebrated by taking his shirt off and that proved costly minutes later when he saw a second yellow card for an elbow.

Groningen pushed for an equaliser but Ajax held on for the victory which moves them three points clear of PSV Eindhoven. Groningen stay 9th in the table.

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