Ajax return to winning and scoring ways

Four point from three matches were what Ajax needed before FC Zwolle - Ajax to capture the title. Ajax had problems winning and scoring in the past weeks, and PSV were closing in fast. Therefore Ajax needed a convincing win against lowly Zwolle. The team from Amsterdam succeeded: 0-5. Wesley Sonck scored three of his team's goals.

Scoring had been a problem for Ajax in the weeks past, and the side, already without the likes of Nicolae Mitea, Hatem Trabelsi and Zdenek Grygera for a while, were dealt a further blow by the absence of stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael van der Vaart. Ibrahimovic returned from a macth with Sweden with a groin injury and Van der Vaart hurt his ankle in the last training session before the match against Zwolle. Wesley Sonck was given a place in the starting line-up, on the right wing next to centre-forward Yannis Anastasiou.

Enough firepower up front for Ajax, and Anastasiou seemed to score when he put in a header by Johnny Heitinga after only four minutes. The Greek forward however, was ruled offside.

After that promising start, Ajax started feeling doubts again. Zwolle, fighting against relegation and winners of their last couple of home matches, sensed that Ajax were vulnerable and put on the pressure. But - again - Tomás Galásek stepped up when his team needed it the most. The Czech midfielder, captain in Van der Vaart's absence, fired in a shot from 20 metres with his left foot. Finally, for the first time in three matches, Ajax took the lead: 0-1.

Coach Ronald Koeman made an important substitution at halftime. He took off Anastasiou and brought on Anthony Obodai, who moved to right-back. Wesley Sonck was the new centre-forward. ,,Sonck comes to the middle often when he plays on the right, and there were already many defenders in there'', Koeman explained. The Ajax boss made the right choice of which striker to leave on, because, after he had missed once from close range, Sonck made the decisive second goal for his team. Left winger Tom Soetaers crossed, and Sonck struck. The ball hit goalkeeper Van der Werff but it came back to Sonck who put it in the net: 0-2.

Zwolle had one more chance to come back in the match, but left it wide. Then Ajax struck three times in ten minutes. Sonck received the ball from Wesley Sneijder and chipped it nicely over the Zwolle-goalkeeper (0-3). Galásek found Sneijder after a quick counter attack and the Holland-midfielder beat Van der Werff with a great strike from distance (0-4). Finally it was again Sonck who scored, this time with a half-lob: 0-5.

Galásek, who had once again carried his team through a difficult time, saw himself unexpectedly booked after a slight foul on Takak. The captain now misses the potential championship match against NAC next Sunday.

,,It was not as easy a the result suggests'', Koeman said. ,,But we did take a step we should have taken earlier.'' Ajax now have to get one point in the remaining two matches to win their 29th national championship.