Ajax 1-1 PSV Eindhoven (2-3 pens): PSV triumph in final of few chances
PSV Eindhoven retained the KNVB Cup by beating Ajax in a forgettable final in Rotterdam decided by an underwhelming penalty shoot-out.
Portuguese striker Fabio Silva, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, struck the winning spot-kick after five of the 10 attempts had been missed or saved.
Ajax failed to register a single shot on target in two hours of football, but took the lead late in the first half thanks to an own goal, before PSV equalised when Xavi Simons engineered a chance for substitute Thorgan Hazard midway through the second half.
Referee Dennis Higler handed out 11 yellow cards as both teams resorted to gamesmanship in a match punctuated by frustration and running feuds, with the two captains, Luuk de Jong and Dusan Tadic, among the offenders.
Ajax started with Brian Brobbey spearheading the attack with Tadic, Steven Berghuis and Steven Bergwijn in support.
PSV coach Ruud van Nistelrooy also front-loaded his team with Guus Til and De Jong up front, Xavi Simons and Johan Bakayoko on the flanks and Joey Veerman and Ibrahim Sangaré as the creative forces in the centre.
But despite the formations the first half was a cagey, scrappy affair, as both teams were aware that defeat would condemn them to a season without silverware.
Ajax saw plenty of the ball but were rudderless going forward, while PSV had the best chances, buoyed by their 3-0 win when the teams met in the Eredivisie a week ago.
Yet it was the Amsterdammers who took the lead just before half-time with a goal in keeping with the overall standard of play. Tadic played in Bergwijn, whose scuffed shot found its way into the net via the leg of defender Jarrad Branthwaite.
Brobbey had a chance to double the lead 10 minutes into the second half, but shot against the post with the goal wide open.
The equaliser midway through the second half was a rare moment of quality. PSV pinged the ball around from a throw-in on the right-hand side until Luuk de Jong found Simons in the penalty area. The winger held off two defenders before playing a pass across the box to Thorgan Hazard, who slipped the ball past Geronimo Rulli.
With neither team mustering a convincing shot on target in the extra 30 minutes, the match drifted towards the first penalty shoot-out in a Dutch cup final since Heerenveen beat Twente Enschede in 2009.
Tadic and Hazard dispatched the first spot-kicks, but both teams missed their next two attempts. 17-year-old Belgian substitute Mika Godts put Ajax back in front, but after Anwar El Ghazi had squared the scores, Edson Alvarez dribbled Ajax’s final penalty straight at the legs of Joël Drommel.
That gave Silva the chance to be the hero and he dispatched his penalty with aplomb to clinch the trophy.
Police arrested 27 supporters during the build-up to the match for verbal abuse or attempting to smuggle fireworks into the stadium. The atmosphere during the game was described as ‘calm and convivial’ despite several instances of homophobic chanting.
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