Injury-hit Ajax slipped further out of the Eredivisie title reckoning as they slumped to defeat at home to FC Utrecht. Edouard Duplan scored late in each half to inflict a second straight defeat on the champions and move the visitors well clear of the bottom three.
It was incredibly Utrecht's fourth league win over the Amsterdammers in the past two seasons. And it left Ajax with a mountain to climb if they are to challenge the likes of PSV Eindhoven, FC Twente and AZ Alkmaar and defend their crown.
The hosts went into the game looking to bounce back from their 4-2 defeat at Feyenoord, and for revenge for their 6-4 reverse at Utrecht earlier in the campaign, but were on the back foot from the off. Alexander Gerndt shot just wide of the left post from inside the area in the third minute as the Ajax defence stood off him.
At the other end Theo Janssen fired a free-kick just over, but the home side were looking very unsure at the back. And Utrecht went in front in the 40th minute as Gerndt's cross was spilled by goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer and Duplan struck home the loose ball.
Ajax never looked like finding a way back into the match in the second half and instead Duplan put the game to bed 12 minutes from time. Frank Demouge played in the striker, who scored with an angled shot inside the far post from the right of the area.