Hakim Ziyech will be joining in Chelsea in the summer, but he wants to go out a winner at Ajax. A double-winner, in fact. But while Ajax remain firmly on course to defend their Eredivisie crown, their Europa League ambitions took a significant hit with Thursday night’s 2-0 loss against Getafe in the Round of 32 first leg.
Neither Ziyech nor Ajax were anywhere near their best as they were frustrated and knocked off their usual game by the wily home side, who are up to third in La Liga it should be mentioned, and who ensured that there was very little flowing football and plenty of silliness and sideshows.
The most obvious example, which made all the Internet rounds yesterday, was Allan Nyom’s hilarious swandive after a brush with Ryan Babel, to which the Ajax forward reacted with a mocking imitation not only of the rolling around bit, but of the subsequent fake limp.
It really was a bizarre moment, but one of just several similar instances that slowed play and kept the visitors off balance and increasingly frustrated. In fact, according to Opta, the ball was in play for less than 43 minutes, which is the least ever in Europa League history (the usual standard is around 60).
42:36 - The ball was in play for just 42 minutes & 36 seconds during Getafe - Ajax, the second-shortest amount of time in a Europa League game (since 2009). Patience. pic.twitter.com/FjQSNT71h5— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) February 20, 2020
To make matters worse for Ajax, not only did they fail to score or even generate shots — they finished the game with two (2!) shots, none on target — they conceded a late-late second goal to truly give themselves a mountain to climb in next week’s second leg back in Amsterdam.
After January signing Deyverson opened the scoring in the first half with his first goal for the club since coming over from Palmeiras, fellow Brazilian and Chelsea loanee Kenedy put the dagger in the heart with a goal in stoppage time.
Kenedy hasn’t featured much for Getafe this season, but he made the most of his few minutes on the pitch as an 88th-minute substitute.
Now the question is, will Getafe twist the knife further, or will Ajax stage a dramatic comeback? Getafe are far, far from pushovers these days, and Ziyech and the rest will have to play a lot better if they are to have any chance.