The biggest shock in the history of Dutch football: Ajax knocked out of KNVB Cup by amateur side Hercules

Ajax have just suffered arguably the biggest shock in their history, losing 3-2 to fourth tier side USV Hercules in the KNVB Cup. It’s the first time ever that the Dutch giants have lost to an amateur side in the Dutch Cup. This defeat is even more humiliating than it sounds, as Hercules thoroughly deserved to win the game. A goal in stoppage time from Mats Grotenbreg sealed the remarkable victory for the Utrecht-based club.

The Amsterdammers were led by Michael Valkanis, John Van ‘t Schip’s assistant, for a second game in a row. Ajax fielded a relatively strong lineup, with the likes of Chuba Akpom, Georges Mikautadze, Carlos Forbs and Josip Sutalo all starting. Somehow, they just couldn’t handle Hercules. Tim Pieters opened the scoring for the hosts before doubling the amateur side’s lead in the second half. 

Brian Brobbey made an impact from the bench, scoring the first of Ajax’s two late goals. Chuba Akpom scored an 89th minute equaliser to break Hercules hearts, but the pain disappeared less than three minutes later when Grotenbreg made history for his side. Ajax racked up 24 goal attempts in the game, registering nine of those on target. Compare that to the 13 goal attempts from Hercules, with eight of those ending up on target.

An incredible night for the Dutch minnows and a dreadful night for the most successful side in the Netherlands. An incredible stat from Opta: Since the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands, back in 1954, Ajax only ever lost more matches in a single calendar year in 1964 (17) than in 2023 (14). What a way to end 2023. Overall, it’s been a horrendous year for the Amsterdammers.

GBeNeFN Hugo Hargreaves

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