The Cup tournament was a primary focus for Vitesse this season. The cliché “fastest way to Europe” has never been so precious. The winner is rewarded with the guarantee of a European group stage. After the lost final, Speed depends on qualifying via the Premier League or the play-offs, but qualifying matches are still pending via this route.
Arnhem did everything as the final approached to inspire coach Thomas Letsch’s team. Before the final, Letsch had nice words for the actions of the fans. His team bravely tried to attack the next national champion in the empty Kuip. With Oussama Tannane just behind the attacking couple Armando Broja-Loïs Openda, Vitesse quickly found space behind the opponent’s back, Ajax seemed to be looking three days after the European elimination at De Kuip. But Arnhem’s vanguard did not take advantage of it.
Opportunities were missed by Armando Broja, Matus Bero and Loïs Openda. Ajax regained the initiative and forced Vitesse to come back far in their own half. The space that the collapsed defense gave Ajax left space for Antony and Davy Klaassen to combine. Ryan Gravenberch was the last station and passed Remko Pasveer.
Ajax looked set to deliver the final blow before half-time. But Broja had a bad time with Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez and Loïs Openda released in front of goal: 1-1.
After the break – in which the injured Dasa was replaced by Dominik Oroz – the first chances were for Ajax. Antony, less fit in recent weeks, has proven to be a bane for Wittek and Rasmussen on the flank. Remko Pasveer kept an excellent goal and kept Vitesse standing.
Ajax – Speed 2-1 (1-1)
23. 1-0 Gravenberch, 30. 1-1 Openda, 90 + 1. 2-1 Neres
Red card: Rasmussen (Speed)
Yellow card: Tannane, Touré, Wittek, Bero (Vitesse)
Ajax: Stekelenburg, Rensch (75. Schuurs), Bois, Martinez, Tagliafico; Alvarez, Klaassen, Gravenberch; Antony, Haller, Tadic.
Speed: Feather; Doekhi, Bazoer, Rasmussen; Dasa (46. Oroz), Tronstad, Tannane, Bero; Broja, Openda (65. Touré).
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