Ajax climb in league table

Ajax climb in league table

Ajax climbed again in the league table. NEC, who were higher in the table beore the match, were defeated by 2-0 in Amsterdam. Coach Marco van Basten was moderately pleased. ,,I am glad we won. We needed that.”

Oleguer was voted Ajax player of the match.
Oleguer was voted Ajax player of the match.

Van Basten had told his team to go all-out from the kickoff. ,,Because so far we have had the crowd behind us. So we would put NEC under pressure from the beginning”, the coach said. ,,But I was very unhappy with the way we began. We had no depth, no transition. I thought that was strange. The crowd was our best player, I thought.”

Ajax also suffered a setback when Dario Cvitanich had to leave with an injury after only ten minutes. Leonardo replaced him. Ajax created some chances, but did not score yet. Still in the first half, Van Basten made a change. He took off Gabri and brought on Siem de Jong. ,,Something had to change. I needed more depth, a midfielder who would play closer to the front line. Siem does that better than the guys who played there. It was not because Gabri played badly. I could have also taken off Jan Vertonghen or Rasmus Lindgren.”

The change paid off. On a great moment, one minute before halftime, Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored his third goal of the season. ,,We should have put them away earlier”, said Van Basten, who was surprised that his forwards let so many opportunites unused. With that he gave Gabor Babos too little credit, as the goalkeeper played an excellent match. But when Suarez, from a great pass by Leonardo, fired, Babos had to release the ball and Huntelaar put it in the back of the net: 1-0.

The coach was more positive about the second half, in which he let central defender Oleguer and right back Gregory van der Wiel change positon to get more initiative from the centre. ,,We had more control and gave very little away. But we did not score enough. That can happen on occasion, but I think it happens too often. We are going to work very hard on that.”

Luis Suarez made it 2-0 from close range after Babos had saved a good header by Oleguer and decided the match. For the sixth home match in a row, Ajax did not concede any goals; the team moved into the upper region of the league table and is only three points behind leaders FC Groningen.