Situated in second position in the Eredivisie, trailing leaders FC Twente by only two points and yet to experience the unpleasant taste of defeat on their footballing palates this season, AFC Ajax have already made history becoming the first-ever Dutch side to participate in the group stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain knocked out 2022/23 Barclays Women’s Super League runners-up Manchester United at the final qualification hurdle (4-2 on aggregate) to cement their place in the group stage of this season’s competition.
AJA: Van Eijk; Kardinaal, Spitse, De Sanders, Weerden; Noordam, van Gool, Yohannes; Grant, Leuchter, Hoekstra
PSG: Picaud; Le Guilly, Hunt, De Almeida, Karchaoui; Albert, Groenen, Geyoro, Baltimore, Chawinga, Katoto
In front of a euphoric home crowd at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in the first-ever meeting between the two sides, Ajax were fortunate not to fall behind after only five minutes. Marie-Antoinette Katoto saw her ambitious chip land inches over the roof of the net following Ajax keeper Regina Van Eijk’s rash decision to race off her line to try and remedy Paris Saint-Germain’s attack.
After a brief interval without any goalscoring opportunities at either end of the pitch, the visitors again came close to the game’s opening goal in the 29th minute as Tabitha Chawinga’s header struck the crossbar.
However, heavily against the run of attacking play of the contest, Ajax stunned PSG with five minutes surpassing on the match-day clock, as Nadine Noordam’s deflected effort off Sakina Karchaoui landed perfectly into the path of Tiny Hoekstra allowing the in-form striker to fire a fearsome strike underneath the body of Constance Picaud.Embed from Getty Images
The two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League finalists would then be left with a mountain to climb in the second half, as Sherida Spitse doubled her sides’ lead from the penalty spot in stoppage-time after Clare Hunt brought a clinical conclusion to the run of Ajax’s attack-minded full-back Ashleigh Weerden.
On course to go top of Group C following AS Roma’s 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich earlier in the evening, Ajax should have put any lingering doubts of a second-half comeback from PSG to bed shortly after the hour-mark. However, with the prospect of striking the back of the net at her mercy, the scorer of the game’s opening goal, Hoekstra, could disappointingly only fire her effort from 12 yards out over Picaud’s crossbar.
With time running out for Jocelyn Prêcheur’s side to salvage a share of the spoils from proceedings, the Division 1 Féminine-based outfit were a matter of millimetres away from getting themselves back into the game. However, Van Eijk somehow managed to recompose herself, after initially spilling Korbin Albert’s shot, to acrobatically dive back towards the goal to remarkably keep the entirety of the ball from travelling over the goal-line.
The landmark victory marks Ajax’s seventh successive success across all competitions ahead of their return to domestic matters in the Eredivisie on Sunday, where de Godendochters will welcome Twente to the Johan Cruijff ArenA for a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash. On the other hand, the defeat condemns Paris Saint-Germain to only their second defeat in the last six matches.