Ajax will remain top of the Eredivisie this weekend after a 6-2 victory over Excelsior. Klaas Jan Huntelaar starred with a hattrick.

With one eye on Tuesday’s second leg against Juventus in the Champions League, Erik ten Hag brought Klaas Jan Huntelaar in for Lasse Schone but other than that, Ajax were at full strength against an Excelsior side that had Ricardo Moniz in the dugout for the first time.

After only ten minutes, Huntelaar put Ajax ahead after a lovely ball by Donny van de Beek. The hosts were then dealt a blow as Frenkie de Jong went off clutching his hamstring to be replaced by Jurgen Ekkelenkamp. Early reports suggest it was precautionary.

After 37 minutes, Dusan Tadic fired Ajax 2-0 ahead when the ball, fortunately, landed at his feet close to goal. Moments later, Huntelaar got his second after some good work by Tadic and then Hakim Ziyech.

Ajax were strolling but just before the break, Excelsior pulled one back through Mounir El Hamdaoui.

Excelsior made a lively start to the second half but any chance of a comeback was wiped out when a penalty was awarded to the hosts for a late challenge on Matthijs de Ligt by Ryan Koolwijk. Tadic slotted in the spot-kick to make it 4-1.

Huntelaar then completed his hattrick with a low strike into the bottom corner before going off to a standing ovation from the home crowd. His replacement, Kasper Dolberg, made it 6-1 after lashing a clever free-kick by Ziyech past Damen.

Jeffry Fortes pulled another consolation back for Excelsior just before injury time with a header into the top corner.

The victory means Ajax move three points ahead of PSV, who play on Sunday and extend their goal difference. Excelsior sit 2nd bottom and have only four games to save themselves from the relegation playoffs.

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