AZ shared honours with Ajax

Published on 23 januari 12, 00:00
ALKMAAR- AZ shared the honours with Ajax in a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon. Rasmus Elm gifted the home side the lead from a free kick after 37 minutes. Simon Poulsen scored an unfortunate own goal fifteen minutes from time. AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek fielded an unchanged side from the one that had knocked out Ajax of the KNVB Cup on Thursday, while Ismaïl Aissati and Ruben Ligeon were dropped to the bench by Ajax coach Frank de Boer.

Ajax left-back Daley Blind, who replaced Ruben Ligeon, had a slow start to the game. He left Roy Beerens completely unmarked but AZ´s right forward sent his header from a Maarten Martens cross just over the bar after only two minutes.

AZ saw most of the ball early on but Ajax fought themselves back into the game and Miralem Sulejmani had a goal disallowed for offside. At the other end, Charlison Benschop was denied a goal by a last-ditch clearance from Jan Vertonghen and Simon Poulsen had a shot well-saved by keeper Kenneth Vermeer.

The game was marred by very strong winds that both teams had to contend with. Many passes were affected by swirls and gusts and Eriksen even needed one full minute to take a corner-kick in the first half as the wind kept on blowing the ball away.

Elm: 1-0
AZ dominated the game in the second part of the first half. Adam Maher wiggled his way past Vertonghen, who committed a foul  near the edge of the area to stop the technically gifted player. Elm once again expertly curled the free-kick over the wall and into the top corner: 1-0.

One minute later, Beerens rounded his marker Blind but fired a left-footed shot inches wide of Vermeer’s left-hand post. Ajax were close to scoring an equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Sulejmani´s effort hit Nick Viergever in the face in the goal area.

AZ also had the better chances in the second half of an end-to-end affair. Maher and Nick Viergever sent shots whistling over the bar, while substitute Jozy Altidore saw his header saved by Vermeer.

After AZ had survived a scare when Lorenzo Ebecilio curled the ball past Esteban but also wide of the post, Nicolás Lodeiro looked to have restored parity for Ajax after 75 minutes, with the Uruguayan tapping home from close range, but it was actually Poulsen who got the decisive touch.  Following the 1-1 draw, AZ are still on top of the Eredivisie, five points above Ajax.

Referee Pieter Vink brandished as many as nine yellow cards at the AFAS Stadion. Goal scorer Elm was one of the players who was cautioned and after picking up his fifth booking of the season the Swede will now miss the next match, away against Roda JC.

AZ – Ajax 1-1 (1-0)

AZ line-up: Esteban; Etiënne Reijnen, Niklas Moisander, Nick Viergever, Simon Poulsen; Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Maarten Martens; Roy Beerens, Charlison Benschop (73. Jozy Altidore), Brett Holman (85. Johann Berg Gudmundsson).
Ajax line-up: Kenneth Vermeer; Vurnon Anita, Toby Alderweireld (63. Ricardo van Rhijn), Jan Vertonghen, Daley Blind; Christian Eriksen, Eyong Enoh (59. Dmitry Bulykin), Theo Janssen; Miralem Sulejmani, Siem de Jong, Lorenzo Ebecilio (73. Nicolás Lodeiro).

Goals: 37. Elm 1-0, 75. Poulsen 1-1 (own goal).
Booked: Martens, Elm (AZ), De Jong, Vertonghen, Enoh, Alderweireld, Lodeiro, Eriksen, Anita (Ajax).
Sent off: -
Referee: Pieter Vink
Attendance: 16.761