Ajax poised to win Dutch league after 4-1 rout of Utrecht
Ajax players celebrate their win after the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Utrecht, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 12, 2019. EPA-EFE/OLAF KRAAK
Ajax players celebrate their win with supporters after the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and FC Utrecht, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 12, 2019. EPA-EFE/OLAF KRAAK
Amsterdam, May 12 (efe-epa).- AFC Ajax practically assured themselves of winning the Dutch first division crown by pummeling Utrecht 4-1 here Sunday.
Ajax and PSV Eindhoven went into the penultimate match of the Eredivisie season level on points at 80, though the Amsterdam side have a far better goal differential: 84, compared with 70 for their rivals.
The victory Sunday lifted Ajax to 83 points, 3 more than PSV Eindhoven, who fell 1-0 to AZ Alkmaar.
In next week's final matchday, Ajax will be away to relegated De Graafschap, while Eindhoven is to host 7th-place Heracles Almelo.
Ajax, five days after seeing their hopes of a Champions League final evaporate with a 3-2 loss to Tottenham Hotspur, showed Sunday that they could rise to the occasion with the Eredivisie crown on the line.
After conceding a goal inside the first minute, to Utrecht's Othman Boussaid, Ajax came roaring back in front of their supporters at Johan Cruyff Arena.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar equalized for Ajax in the 14th minute with an assist from Donny van de Beek, who went on to deliver the go-ahead goal in first-half stoppage time.
Serbian striker Dusan Tadic scored a brace in the closing minutes of the second half: the first in the 75th minute from open play with an assist from Huntelaar; the second just five minutes later from the spot.
Eindhoven, meanwhile, lost 1-0 away to Alkmaar, where Guus Til's goal early in the second half proved to be enough for the hosts to claim all 3 points.
Barring an upheaval in the final week of the season, the most successful club in the history of soccer in the Netherlands will be celebrating their 34th Eredivisie title, the first since 2013-2014.
"We have a very, very good chance and you could see our delight on the pitch at the end. That says it all," Ajax's Frenkie de Jong said after his team bested Utrecht.
In Alkmaar, PSV coach Mark van Bommel acknowledged the Eredivisie title was out of reach.
"The chance is still there, but we have to be realistic: it's not going to happen," he said.
Ajax already have one trophy to show for their efforts in 2018-2019, having dispatched Willem II Tilburg last Sunday to win the Dutch Cup. EFE