'Ajax live in a strange world this season'

'Ajax live in a strange world this season'

Ajax deafted Heerenveen in the quarter final of the Gatorade Cup: 0-3. After an early goal by Mauro Rosales, the Amsterdam side held on to a minimal lead for most of the match. Ajax did not wilt under the pressure from the home side and Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Urby Emanuelson widened the margin in the closing stages.

The early goal by Rosales was a present by the Frisian side. After the home team had missed a few good chances, defender Michel Breuer clumsily gave the ball to Mauro Rosales. The Argentine winger calmly put it in the back of the net: 0-1.

Logically, Ajax did not care that their lead went against the flow of the match. Even better: after Rosales' goal, Ajax became stronger.

It did not lead to great chances until halftime. Heerenveen remained dangerous through efforts by Arnold Bruggink and captain Petter Hansson. But the northern side was visibly handicapped by the loss of strikers Samaras (Manchester City) and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who manned the most forward position for Ajax this time.

Only when Lasse Nilsson, after apparently being fouled by Thomas Vermaelen, was not awarded a penalty, the home side could claim to have troubled the Ajax defence. Of all people, it was Huntelaar who decided the match by putting it in from close range. ,,Heerenveen tried to put us under pressure after haltime, and we did little with the room we got'', said coach Danny Blind after the match.

For Huntelaar, a load must have fallen of his shoulders. The former Heerenveen striker scored his first goal for Ajax. In more ways than one a liberating goal. Shortly after, Urby Emanuelson added to the joy by putting in his team's third.

,,In the end, this was a good win'', said Wesley Sneijder. ,,But we should have decided it earlier.'' His teammate Hedwiges Maduro agreed, and looked ahead. ,,This could turn out to be a good season after all. We can reach the playoffs and we are still in the Champions League and the Gatorade Cup. We live in a strange world this season.''

Klaas Jan Huntelaar performed the draw for the next round after the match and he gave Ajax the best possible matchup for the semifinal. Ajax play Roda JC in Amsterdam. In the other semifinal, PSV host AZ.