Ajax reach next round

Ajax reach next round

Ajax reached the semifinal of the Dutch FA Cup. Willem II could not repeat the upset of two years ago and Ajax won by 0-2 in Tilburg.

A typical case of wishful thinking, put up behind one of the goals in the stadium of Willem II: a long banner that said ’21 April 2005: Willem II - Ajax 1-0’ was meant to inspire this season's 'Tricolores' to a new upset. But two years after their last cup loss, Ajax were not surprised.

With some more luck and precision, Ajax could have made the maker of the banner remove his encouragement earlier. John Heitinga missed an open header after a cross by Wesley Sneijder after 20 minutes. The defender, who earlier this week extended his contract with Ajax, neglected to force an early decision.

Eight minutes before the miss, Zdenek Grygera touched the ball to Klaas Jan Huntelaar who went by goalkeeper Aerts and put it away calmly: 0-1.

Urby Emanuelson retuned to the Ajax lineup after a month-long absence. Zdenek Grygera, who played against AZ as a substitute last Sunday, also played the full 90 minutes. The central defender started alongside Jaap Stam. The captain did not make it to halftime and was replaced by Hedwiges Maduro. ,,Jaap indicated before the match that his hamstring was bothering him’’, said coach Henk ten Cate. ,,We did not want to take risks.’’

With Nicolae Mitea on for Leonardo, who played a difficult second half and was already booked, Ajax still did not gain in efficiency. Mitea stood at the end of a smooth Ajax attack that was set up by Grygera. Tom de Mul delivered the ball to Mitea, who missed from close range.

Not until ten minutes before the end did Ajax lock up the win. Heitinga extended a shot by Huntelaar: 0-2. Mission accomplished: Ajax were through to the semifinal of the cup. ,,In the end we were hardly in any trouble, but it wasn't pretty'', said Ten Cate. ,,Fatigue also played a part. This was our third match in seven days, of which we also had to finish one with ten players. And the heavy pitches begin to take their toll.’’