Godenzonen move to league summit following comprehensive victory over the Almelo outfit
Ajax recorded a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Heracles on Sunday, with goals from Theo Janssen, Lorenzo Ebecillio, Christian Eriksen, Vurnon Anita, Siem de Jong, and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson bagging the hosts the full three points.
The reigning champions entered the tie in fine form, having emerged victorious from their last seven fixtures. The visitors, meanwhile, were buoyed by their recent progression to the final of the KNVB Cup at the expense of table-toppers AZ.
With their nearest title rivals Twente and PSV both having recorded wins earlier in the round, the onus was on Ajax to pick up the full three points. And with first spot, at least provisionally, up for grabs, it was the Amsterdam side who enjoyed the better of opening exchanges.
The hosts were quick to apply offensive pressure, coming within inches of an opener three times in the space of just a few minutes early on. Eriksen saw his shot beat the post by the smallest of margins, before Ozbiliz’s deflected attempt drizzled past the goal. Alderweireld then drew a solid save from Pasveer, with the keeper having to deny the Belgian after he was left unmarked on a corner.
Ajax skipper Vertonghen would provide the inspiration for the opener, sending Ebecillio into space after dodging several challenges in midfield. The Dutchman sent a lobbed delivery into the box, which Janssen somewhat scrappily converted.
The Amsterdam side continued to dominate proceedings up until the break, but lacked the incisiveness to create further chances. Substitute Lukoki used his electric pace to latch onto a through ball, but poor finishing from the youngster allowed the Heracles to clear. Nothing came of late pressure from the visitors, with the home defence remaining relatively untroubled.
Pasveer was called back into action minutes after the interval, with Alderweireld again sending in a dangerous header. The keeper could not be faulted for conceding Ajax’s second shortly after, being left helpless for Ebecilio’s diving header. The Dutchman did well to block De Jong’s initial attempt, but could do nothing to counteract the winger’s quick reaction to the rebound.
The third goal followed almost instantly, with Eriksen set to receive the plaudits for his side’s third. The Dane sent a rifling effort towards the goal after collecting the ball on the edge of the box, and watched the ball roll past Pasveer after a heavy deflection had sent the keeper the wrong way.
The reigning champions were in rampant form, with Anita getting his name on the scoresheet in the 62nd minute. The midfielder linked up sumptuously with compatriot De Jong, with a simple one-two putting the Dutchman in a position to slot home only his second domestic goal of the season.
And it was Anita’s provider who would find the next goal, with De Jong netting the fifth of the afternoon. The deputy forward coolly latched onto a long ball from Eriksen, piling further misery on the visitors with the deftest of touches.
Janssen unselfishly allowed Sigthorsson to complete the rout, with the midfielder teeing up the Iceland international minutes before time. The striker had not appeared for the Amsterdam side for six months due to an ankle injury, but marked his return by getting his name on the score-sheet and finishing off a crushing victory.
The win sees the reigning champions move provisionally to the top of the table, with AZ set to play later today. Heracles meanwhile squander the opportunity to temporarily move into 10th, though the Almelo side remain safe from relegation.