Ajax have put an end to a five-year dry spell of titles by beating Willem II 4-0 to win the TOTO KNVB Beker final at De Kuip in Rotterdam on Sunday. The Amsterdam side have lifted the Dutch Cup for the 19th time. The convincing victory keeps their treble dream alive.
It took almost half an hour before Ajax found an answer to the defensive tactics of Willem II, who were cheered on by 18,000 fans from Tilburg. The Eredivisie leaders failed to create any major chances or even play their famous possession game.
And then in the 34th minute came applause from the stands, with Ajax supporters chanting the name of Abdelhak Nouri, who once made his debut for Ajax in a cup match against Willem II and scored. Nouri is still in hospital after sustaining severe brain damage following a heart attack on the field in 2017.
A few minutes later, on-form defender Daley Blind opened the scoring with a clever close-range header, followed by another goal from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar within 60 seconds. The veteran striker scored again in the 67th minute and Danish fullback Rasmus Kristensen added a fourth with less than a quarter before the final whistle to emphasise Ajax’s dominance and seal their first Dutch Cup since 2009-10.
The result is a huge confidence boost for Ajax ahead of a string of crucial games. Erik ten Hag's side lead the Eredivisie on goal difference from PSV Eindhoven with just two games left. On Wednesday night, they face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League semi-final second leg and hope that their 1-0 away victory last week will be enough to put them into the final. If so, they’ll still be on course for a clean sweep of trophies this season.