Ajax came from behind to defeat VVV Venlo 4-1 and remain five points clear of AZ Alkmaar in second with two games left. 

After the embarrassment in Eindhoven last weekend, Erik ten Hag decided to line-up in a 3-4-3 against VVV Venlo with Noussair Mazraoui handed his first start.

In the eighth minute, the hosts had a great chance to open the scoring when Damian van Bruggen brought down Lasse Schone. The midfielder took the penalty himself but Lars Unnerstall pushed it to safety.

Mazraoui and Neres then missed decent chances as Ajax struggled to break through an organised VVV defence. The home side were then dealt a major blow with Joel Veltman stretchered off the field after what looked a serious injury.

In the 42nd minute, VVV opened the scoring when Ralf Seuntjens judged a long ball before firing past Andre Onana from distance. The goal woke Ajax up and at the break they were 2-1 up thanks to a Neres double. The winger tapped in his first from close range and then finished off a swift counter shortly after.

Vito van Crooij had a good chance to put VVV back level early in the second half when he found himself one-on-one with Onana but the winger failed to find the net. Just before the hour-mark, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar eased the nerves in the ArenA, finishing well after being set up by Neres.

The post prevented Neres from completing his hat-trick before Hakim Ziyech sealed the victory with a placed shot that found the net off the post. With the victory secure, Ten Hag was able to hand a first-team debut to 18-year-old midfielder Jurgen Ekkelenkamp a few minutes before the end.

The win keeps Ajax five points ahead of AZ Alkmaar in second and a victory at the weekend would ensure the Amsterdammers a place in the Champions League qualifiers next season. VVV are 12th.

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