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PSV hero Pereiro shows star quality with double over Ajax

GOALCOMMENT   By Peter McVitie  in the Amsterdam Arena

In the absence of Luuk de Jong, Maxime Lestienne and Jetro Willems, PSV faced an uphill battle as they travelled to Amsterdam to take on league leaders Ajax.

Frank de Boer’s side had dropped points just once heading in to the game and held a five-point lead over the reigning champions before kick-off.

However, while the opportunity was there for Ajax to make a statement in the Eredivisie title race against a weakened side, they did not count on Eindhoven’s new South American star Gaston Pereiro making the difference.

The 20-year-old Uruguayan was making just his first start for Phillip Cocu’s men and was on target in each half to stun the home side.

All eyes had been on stand-in striker Jurgen Locadia, but the 21-year-old was underwhelming throughout. 
And so it was Pereiro who stepped up to secure a vital win for his team. Strong, quick and with a neat touch, the summer signing showed a cool head as he found the net with two of his three shots in the game.

“We were able to find the free man and Gastón Pereiro filled in for Lestienne really great," Cocu told reporters after the game. The coach would not have expected too much from a player he had only ever handed substitute appearances to before – he had featured for more than 15 minutes on just one occasion in the league.

"Pereiro is used to playing on the right, but I put him on the left against Ajax. But he was allowed to move more towards Locadia or play on the right and switch with Narsingh. He is not a player that stays on the wings.

"He needed some time to adjust, because he doesn't speak the language and has trouble communicating with his team-mates. He had to start due to the sad family situation of Lestienne, but he really filled in great.

“Sometimes you just need to get a chance and that was today."

It took just seven minutes for Pereiro to make his mark in Amsterdam as he took advantage of some terrible Ajax defending.

In an illustration of his link up play, strength and finishing ability, Pereiro played a lovely one-two with Locadia to get in behind the back line. Three Ajax players surrounded him but they did not even look like disrupting his run as he held them off to scoop it up over Jasper Cillessen and into the net.

PSV were on top for the majority of the match against their fierce rivals, but some poor passing combined with some sound tackles from Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete saw most of their promising attacks come to an end.

Pereiro’s attacking partners were unable to find the cutting edge to their game and while Andres Guardado’s early return from injury was a big boost for PSV, he was never going to make the difference. That said, he Jorrit Hendrix and Davy Propper dominated the midfield.

The attention was on Ajax stars Davy Klaassen, Viktor Fischer and Anwar El Ghazi to come through for the full-strength home side, but all three were unimpressive yet again and as they passed up chances, it gave Pereiro the opportunity to show how decisive he can be.

As the teams exchanged attacks but continued to falter in front of goal, the closing stages became chaotic, and just as Frank de Boer’s men began to look capable of holding out for a draw, the key moment came.

Hendrix’s fine pass found Pereiro in a dangerous area and his superb finish left Cillessen floundering.
The impressive Lestienne will return to the starting XI soon, but Pereiro will have given Cocu something to think about, while Ajax will be looking over their shoulder with two points now separating the two sides in the table.