Ajax - the past weeks struggling with their self-confidence and disappointing results - found the only fitting remedy: a 2-0 win against FC Thun gave the team from Amsterdam hope for better times and a favourable perpective for further European adventures.
Faces were happy after the second home match in the Champions League and in light of the recent history, that was understandable. Ajax are far away from first place in the Dutch league, despite playing football that is occasionally great to watch. But in spite the pleasing playing style, the results should follow suit.
FC Thun is not the best opponent Ajax has had to deal with this season, but for this year's team, nothing is certain, as was shown on Saturday when Ajax drew 0-0 against Heracles Almelo. Then, the home team had chances a plenty, but missed them all. Blind: ,,Today, we also left two, three chances unused early in the match. I can imagine people on the terraces and at home were thinking: not again?’’
They did not have to, thanks to veteran Yannis Anastasiou. The Greek striker was given his first start of the season and rewarded his coach by scoring both goals. Blind: ,,Yannis is simply a good football player. He did not only stay with the club because of his positive influence in the dressing room, but for his ability on the pitch.’’
After a strong opening phase, in which Ajax created good opportunities, the home side faded somewhat. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg made sure his team stayed in the match at that stage. All of a sudden, the ball went in the other goal. Steven Pienaar passed to Anastasiou, who came before his opponent and scored in the short corner. Ten minutes into the second half, he also scored goal number two, a copy of the first one, but this time from the left side.
Coach Danny Blind said he hoped the win against FC Thun will give his team some more confidence. Blind: ,,The win was important for the ranking in the group, but also because of the situation we were in.’’ Blind mainly alluded to the lack of scoring prowess, something that also could be seen on Tuesday, despite Anastasiou's two goals. Steven Pienaar missed a wide-open chance, Anastasiou could have made his third and substitutes Ryan Babel and Nourdin Boukhari also missed.
Ajax face Thun again in two weeks' time, in the Stade de Suisse in Bern. They will take nothing for granted, said Blind, who thinks his team need four more points to reach the next round. ,,Thun is better than they showed today, I know that from the times we analysed them. It will be an open match, in which we will get our chances.''