On Thursday, partly thanks to a hat trick by Zakaria Labyad, Ajax also won the second practice match of the preparation with ample figures. FC Utrecht was defeated 5-1 in the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
All five Amsterdam hits came in the first half. Labyad quickly ticked in the 1-0 and Noa Lang signed for the 2-0. Nicolás Tagliafico also scored, after which the 27-year-old Labyad set the half-time score at 5-0 with two nice free kicks.
After the break, Utrecht gave more resistance and the score became more bearable for the visitors due to a beautiful goal by Othmane Boussaid.
Last Saturday Ajax started the preparation with a 6-1 victory over RKC Waalwijk. The duel with FC Utrecht, with 4,500 spectators in the stands, was the last exhibition game for the Amsterdam club before the selection of trainer Erik ten Hag leaves for Austria on Saturday for a training camp. Ajax practices in the Alpine country against Wolfsberger AC and Red Bull Salzburg. FC Utrecht’s next exhibition match will be against sc Heerenveen in a week.
Nicolás Tagliafico taps in the 3-0. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Gustafsson misses a penalty kick
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dusan Tadic were missing at Ajax against FC Utrecht. The pair were kept out of the competition selection by Ten Hag due to minor complaints, while André Onana, injured by his knee, again did not participate. Maarten Stekelenburg was allowed to start, as was Antony.
Labyad also had a basic place and became the trendsetter of the first half. The former FC Utrecht player was in the forefront and made the 1-0 after four minutes. Noussair Mazraoui steamed up and laid back on Ryan Gravenberch, who hit the post. Labyad did score in the rebound.
A few minutes later, Mazraoui had a negative role. He caused a penalty kick by taking down Bart Ramselaar, but it was not for Simon Gustafson. The Swede fired on the post. On the other hand, a bet by Lang ended up on the crossbar.
Enough happened in the opening phase and after 21 minutes it was 2-0. With a low shot in the corner, Lang Utrecht knocked goalkeeper Thijmen Nijhuis. It became even more painful for the away team, which did not get a grip on the Amsterdam attackers and that led to the 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 in the remainder of the first half.
The third goal was a ticker by Tagliafico on a pass from Lang in the 33rd minute and the fourth a beautiful free kick from Labyad eight minutes later. Just before half time, Labyad did it again with another beautiful free kick.
Joy at Zakaria Labyad after one of his three goals. (Pro Shots)
Taylor makes unofficial debut
Despite the hat-trick, Labyad was left halfway in the locker room. Only Stekelenburg and Lang were not replaced by Ten Hag, while the eighteen-year-old Kenneth Taylor made his unofficial debut as a substitute. Donny van de Beek took over the captaincy from Daley Blind.
Fifteen minutes after the break FC Utrecht changed seven times and with all those new players on both sides, the game became less lively. Much more than a shot from Lang, which went wide, did not happen.
Without Labyad, Utrecht had less trouble with Ajax and the team of trainer John van den Brom made the score even more bearable. After a short corner, Boussaid shot the ball beautifully into the far corner. Nick Venema should also have made it 5-2, but his bet was stopped twice by Stekelenburg, making it 5-1.