Both sides found it hard to get their mojo working in a shambolic first half. Neither Feyenoord nor Ajax had any form to speak of going into the game and the lack of confidence showed.
The two enemy combatants tried to compensate with passion and determination and Feyenoord showed plenty of both to keep their hosts at a safe distance in the first half.
The best chance ahead of the break fell to Georginio Wijnaldum on the quarter hour. Theo Lucius dispossessed Luis Suarez at the back, setting up a fast counter that ended in a hard Wijnaldum drive that Maarten Stekelenburg managed to save.
Kelvin Leerdam would threaten the home goal twice as the half wore on. The game was almost twenty minutes old when the defender shot over from the edge of the area. A good ten minutes later, under pressure from a defender the youngster got his head to a Diego Biseswar corner, but the effort went wide.
Ajax saved their best two attacks for the latter stages of the half. Defender Thomas Vermaelen was at the centre of things both times. The Belgian’s first input was to get on the end of a long ball to head the ball across to Suarez, who let rip from just inside the box. Henk Timmer saved. Soon after, the chance fell to Vermaelen himself. This time Timmer parried his header.
The match dynamic changed after the turnaround, as Ajax grabbed the lead early in the second period. A Lucius foul on Suarez earned the defender a booking, but the real punishment came when Kennedy sent in the resulting free kick. Vermaelen was at the far post to nod his side into the lead.
It was the start of a period in which Feyenoord found themselves under heavy pressure. Not long after the opening goal Suarez had an opportunity to double his side’s lead, but Timmer stopped the Uruguayan’s shot. The match was past the hour mark when the striker chipped just over the Feyenoord goal.
It was a matter of staying in touch for Feyenoord and the visitors certainly had their fair share of fortune. Timmer pounced on the ball as it rolled along the goal line after Vurnon Anita shot against the inside of the post. Twenty minutes later Timmer was beaten by another Suarez chip, but this time the bar got in the way. The rebound fell to Kennedy, who blazed wide.
The goal was proving neither wide nor high enough for the hosts, because Urby Emanuelson also rattled the post with a free kick around a quarter of an hour before time. Then, in the closing minutes Timmer managed to get his hand to a Suarez effort, which again crunched against the upright.
The home side finally wrapped up the points in time added on. The lively Suarez was put through on Timmer, playing in Emanuelson to net. By that time Feyenoord were down to ten men, after Tiendalli accumulated his second yellow and took the walk of shame.
Ajax – Feyenoord 2-0
52’ 1-0 Vermaelen
90’ 2-0 Emanuelson
Bookings: Fer, Bahia, Lucius, Leonardo
Sending off: Tiendalli (2x yellows)
Ajax: Stekelenburg; Van der Wiel, Wielaert, Oleguer, Vermaelen; Gabri (43’ Anita), Lindgren, Emanuelson; Kennedy (80’ Schilder), Suarez and Sulejmani (46’ Leonardo).
Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Lucius, Bahia, Leerdam; El Ahmadi, Wijnaldum (79’ Mols), Fer; Slory (70’ Bruins), Makaay and Biseswar.