Ajax won the first game of their 2023-24 Eredivisie season on Saturday in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Despite going 0-1 down to Heracles Almelo, the Amsterdam side finished the match 4-1 winners after goals from Steven Bergwijn, Mohamed Kudus, and a potential goal-of-the-season contender from Jakov Medic. Mario Engels scored the solitary goal for Heracles.
Ajax started the match with three new signings making their debut. Branco van der Boomen, Benjamin Tahirovic, and Jakov Medic made their first start for Maurice Steijn’s side. It was Heracles’s first match in the Eredivisie for a year, as they were relegated in 2022.
Van der Boomen was Ajax’s primary source of danger in the first half. The midfielder tested Heracles keeper Michael Brouwer with a hard free kick from 30 yards after around ten minutes which Brouwer knocked over the bar. The resulting corner also led to a save from Brouwer when Medic headed the ball toward the goal.
Brian Brobbey missed a big chance when Jorrel Hato’s flick-on found the striker free in the box with an open goal which he failed to convert.
A blow for the Amsterdammers came just before the half-hour mark when goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was forced off with a head injury. Jay Gorter came on to take his place.
Kenneth Taylor failed to capitalize on another huge opportunity after 37 minutes. Salah-Eddine played the ball into the feet of Brobbey, who laid it off perfectly for the onrushing Taylor, but his shot hit the side netting. Salah-Eddine was at fault for Heracles taking the lead shortly before halftime. The full-back’s clearance did not have enough power and struck his teammate in the box, falling perfectly for Mario Engels, who made no mistake leaving Gorter with no chance.
However, Ajax leveled the match just two minutes later through an unlikely source. Medic marked his debut with possibly the best goal the defender will ever score. He left Brouwer with no chance with an unstoppable drive from around 40 yards away to put the team’s level going into halftime.
Ajax took the lead through Mohamed Kudus with 15 minutes to go. The Ghanaian winger took advantage of a mistake by Heracles substitute Ruben Roosken by controlling the ball before placing it into the far corner. It could be the last goal Kudus scores for Ajax as he is reportedly close to a transfer to English Premier League side Brighton.
Steven Bergwijn made it 3-1 putting the game to bed ten minutes later. Bergwijn, who was announced as the new Ajax captain earlier this week following the departure of Dusan Tadic, finished off a perfect dribble by placing the ball into the net. The winger was on form, nearly getting an assist a few minutes later with an excellent cross for Davy Klaassen, but the experienced midfielder did not get the connection he would have wanted from the header, with Brouwer saving once again.
Bergwijn got his second of the match in injury time when the VAR official Edwin van de Graaf saw a handball offense asking referee Jeroen Manschot to take a look at the replay. Manschot agreed and awarded the penalty, which Bergwijn converted to put the icing on the cake for Ajax.
Ajax’s next game is in Rotterdam, away to Excelsior next Saturday afternoon. Heracles will play their first home match since their return to the Eredivisie against NEC on Friday evening.
https://nltimes.nl/2023/08/12/ajax-come-back-goal-win-heracles Ajax come back from a goal down to win against Heracles