Ajax fightback denies Feyenoord
Jan Vertonghen headed the equaliser as ten-man Ajax fought back for a 1-1 draw with Feyenoord at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Teenage defender Stefan de Vrij put Feyenoord ahead after 61 minutes and they were a man to the good just a couple minutes later when home goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer was dismissed for a professional foul on Guyon Fernandez. But Vertonghen scored in the 67th minute to rescue a point for the hosts.
Ronald Koeman, the Feyenoord manager, might have expected his team to win the game after moving into their dominant position of leading and having an extra man on the pitch.
It would not be Feyenoord's day though, and given they were facing an out-of-sorts Ajax it could prove a missed opportunity for the team from Rotterdam.
Ajax were disappointing in the first half, when Feyenoord's Ruben Schaken and Jerson Cabral were both denied by Vermeer. Home manager Frank de Boer substituted Christian Eriksen and Miralem Sulejmani early in the second half, looking for their replacements Jody Lukoki and Dmitry Bulykin to make a difference.
But Feyenoord edged ahead with a messy goal. Ron Vlaar had a shot blocked and the ball ricocheted to De Vrij whose shot struck Vermeer at close quarters and deflected into the bottom right corner.
Vermeer then arguably saved the game for Ajax with his dismissal. Fernandez looked sure to score when he raced clear and touched the ball past the charging goalkeeper, who took the striker out with a blatant foul 30 yards out from his line.
It was as clear as professional fouls come, and referee Bas Nijhuis had an easy decision in ruling that Vermeer had to walk, with substitute goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen coming on for Gregory van der Wiel.
But the foul meant it remained only 1-0, and Ajax were almost immediately back on level terms thanks to Vertonghen. He met Theo Janssen's left-wing corner with a classic header from 12 yards, sending the ball high into the Feyenoord net, to bring the teams level. Neither side had the subtlety to find a winner.