An evening that was filled with tension and doubt ended in a sigh of relief for Ajax. Relief that after a difficult start, the Champions League was reached at the expense of Brøndby IF. Ajax won 3-1 and are in the draw Thursday when the groups are announced.
For a long time, another scenario seemed more likely. Ajax had great difficulty finding gaps in Brøndby's defence.The Danish champion had the upper hand on the basis of physical strength and opportunism. Danny Blind saw his team struggling before halftime. ,,We couldn't find the open man. I thought it was Boukhari, but he didn't get the ball nearly enough.''
Just when Ajax seemed to come back, Brøndby took the lead. Nigel de Jong lost the ball, Brøndby countered and Johan Elmander scored: 0-1.
After the break, the Ajax player who had by then made the least impact, for the turnaround. Ryan Babel, who had the most difficulty going by his defender and handling the ball, compensated with one single, successful touch. The thunderous effort he produced in the 50th minute was one that is becoming his trademark: a very important goal in a match where he does litlle else.
The equaliser gave Ajax hope for a happy ending. Wesley Sneijder, on for Boukhari gave his team a spark and together with Hedwiges Maduro he created combinations and danger before the Brøndby goal.
Ten minutes before the end, the substitute got his ultimate revenge. From the edge of the box he fired the ball in the upper left corner: 2-1. A clever pass from Maduro was the start of the decisive goal. Again it was Sneijder who scored.
Blind was happy with the victory that was so important for his club. ,,It's great for the club, also financially. But for the guys too, who now have six matches on the highest level. We have no illusion that we are going to win the Champions League. it is a learning process.''