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Ajax have extended their lead at the top of the table to nine points after a difficult 4-2 win at PEC Zwolle.
Erik ten Hag decided to give Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Sergino Dest a rest on Friday night with both David Neres and Noussair Mazraoui starting.
After only six minutes, Ajax had the lead when PEC Zwolle goalkeeper Xander Mous pushed a cross straight into the path of Quincy Promes, who passed the ball into the net.
Five minutes later, Promes doubled the visitors lead with a header from Hakim Ziyech’s cross. In the 20th minute, Ziyech found Neres in the box and after Mous failed to get enough of a connection on the ball, the Brazilian winger found an empty net to make it 3-0.
Ajax were cruising but they lost Lisandro Martinez to an injury with Edson Alvarez replacing him. In the 35th minute, the Mexican substitute made an error which was seized on by Gustavo Hamer, who raced in on goal before slotting past Andre Onana to make it 1-3 at the break.
The goal gave PEC Zwolle confidence in the second half, and after Dusan Tadic had missed a great chance to make it 4-1, the hosts did pull another one back. In the 62nd minute, Vito van Crooy crossed for Mustafa Saymak to head in from close range.
Minutes later, Saymak had the ball in the net once again but the goal was disallowed correctly for offside.
Ten Hag lost Alvarez and then Donny van de Beek to injury issues but eventually they sealed the victory. Ziyech got behind the hosts defence and set up Neres for a tap-in.
Ajax move temporarily nine points clear but will now be sweating over the fitness of Martinez, Van de Beek and Alvarez ahead of their Champions League clash with Chelsea. PEC Zwolle sits 14th.
Sergino Dest has stated there was nothing more Ronald Koeman could have done to persuade him to choose the Netherlands over the USA.
The 18-year-old right back finally ended speculation over his international future this week as he chose to remain with the US National team.
Speaking to NOS, the Ajax youngster stated that there was nothing more that the KNVB or Ronald Koeman could have done.
He said, “Whether he (Koeman) could have done anything else? No …
“It’s really nobody’s fault. No trainer can blame you. The decision is entirely up to me, it’s my choice. So it’s my fault.”
Dest is happy to hear that Netherlands fans are disappointed with his choice, “It is nice to hear of course, because it gives me more motivation to do my best and reach the top. If I succeed and if that is my potential. I am happy with that.”
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