Ajax have climbed into second and closed the gap on leaders PSV to five points after a 3-1 victory over Excelsior in the Johan Cruyff ArenA. 

PSV and AZ could only draw in midweek, opening up the opportunity for Ajax to close the gap with a win over Excelsior.

After a slow start, Ajax took the lead on 23 minutes when David Neres picked out Siem de Jong in the middle and the midfielder, in for the suspended Lasse Schone, lashed the ball into the net.

The hosts were dealt a blow soon after the opener when Maximilian Wöber was stretchered off the field with a bad looking injury, while Joel Veltman also saw a yellow card which will rule him out of the weekend’s crucial tie with AZ.

Five minutes before the break, the home crowd was stunned as Excelsior levelled through Mike van Duinen, who slid the ball into the net after Andre Onana kept out a free-kick.

Ajax came out of the traps quickly in the second half and hit the post through Siem de Jong before they were awarded a penalty for a crazy handball by Hicham Faik. Kasper Dolberg made no mistake to put Ajax back in front.

Ajax couldn’t kill the game quickly but four minutes before the end, Hakim Ziyech sealed the victory with a lovely free-kick into the bottom corner.

Ajax move above AZ on goal difference and have closed the gap on PSV to five points. Excelsior stay 11th.

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