Some had been criticizing AZ Alkmaar's spot atop the table, accusing the of just beating up on the weak teams and lacking the quality to contend for the title. Their trip to Amsterdam on Saturday to take on mighty Ajax was supposed to knock them down a peg, but then they went up 2-0 within 22 minutes. They had made their statement!
The problem is that AZ had 68 minutes left to play. That's 68 minutes in which Ajax were able to find two goals of their own and while a draw away to Ajax is certainly an affirmation of AZ's title contender credentials, it will no doubt be a disappointment after they looked on pace to come away with all three points.
Brett Holman put AZ on top after 14 minutes, striking from 18 yards with the help of a deflection and eight minutes later Holman got into the act again. This time Holman made his impact with his passing, threading a brilliant ball through to Roy Beerens, who chipped the keeper to put the visitors ahead 2-0.
That 2-0 lead held until halftime, but just three minutes after the break Ajax cut the AZ lead in half thanks to some help from the referee. The man with the whistle awarded Ajax a spot kick, ruling that Dirk Marcellis comitted a foul in the box that replays showed was a questionable call at best. Nonetheless, Ajax had a penalty kick that Miralem Sulejmani finished at it was 2-1.
After Ajax got their goal, the rest of the match went in their favor despite Eyong Enoh being sent off for a second yellow card in the 70th minute. Christian Eriksen was a menace and all of Ajax's pressure paid off eight minutes from time when Theo Janssen found an equalizer with a good low shot.
Even with the draw, AZ remains atop the Eredivisie, while Ajax are stuck in a pack behind them. AZ will be disappointed to have not gotten three points, but having gotten a result in Amsterdam it is more than fair to call them legitimate title contenders now.