Ajax seal title to complete double after Euro heartache
Doetinchem (Netherlands) (AFP)
Ajax were crowned Dutch champions for the 34th time on Wednesday after they cruised to 4-1 win at De Graafschap that completed a domestic double a week after their crushing Champions League exit at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
Goals from Lasse Schoene, Nicolas Tagliafico and Dusan Tadic, who bagged a second half-brace, saw Erik ten Hag's side win their eighth league match on the bounce and formerly win the title after effectively sealing the deal at the weekend.
Ajax came into the final match of the season three points clear of closest rivals PSV Eindhoven with a 14-goal higher goal difference after they beat Utrecht 4-1 and the defending champions lost 1-0 at AZ Alkmaar on Sunday.
Those results made a first double in 17 years -- Ajax won the Dutch Cup on May 5 -- a near-certainty, and in the end made PSV's 3-1 win over Heracles irrelevant.
However the flamboyant Amsterdam outfit, who captured hearts as their scintillating football took them to the brink of a first Champions League final in more than two decades, nonetheless turned on the style in their final game before their stars are sold off in the summer.
Midfielder Frenkie De Jong will leave for Barcelona in the summer for an initial 75 million euros ($89 million), while centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, who sent Juventus packing with a bullet header in the quarter finals, could follow his teammate to Catalonia.
After knocking out Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16, coach Franck De Boer admitted that forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres would also all be targeted by Europe's biggest clubs come the end of the season.
Their thrilling European adventure, which also saw them dump out Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus, came to an end in gut-wrenching style last week when Lucas Moura's 96th-minute strike for Spurs saw Ajax throw away a 3-0 aggregate lead and miss out on a trip to Madrid on away goals.
? 2019 AFP