Ajax save their strengths
Ajax booked a fairly hazard-free win against De Graafschap: 3-0. On the eve of the UEFA Cup return against Marseille, the home side had a chance to save some energy.
Three days after the first leg of the UEFA Cup tie against Olympique Marseille and three days before the return, Ajax had to deal with De Graafschap. The question was how much energy had Ajax spent in Marseille and which form would the team show in the run-up to the second leg.
Bruno Silva replaced Gregory van der Wiel, who was suspended. Coach Marco van Basten also had to make do without the injured Gabri, Jan Vertonghen, Rasmus Lindgren and Eyong Enoh. But the home side still had a formidable lineup, especially with the three forwards Miralem Sulejmani, Dario Cvitanich and Luis Suarez.
,,We rested Ismaïl Aissati today’’, Marco van Basten said. ,,I also have hopes that we can use Enoh and maybe even Lindgren against Marseille on Wednesday.’’
Former Ajax goalkeeper Erik Heijblok got the first taste of Suarez's abilities after 23 minutes. The Uruguayan forward struck from a free kick. After the nice first goal, Ajax pressed on. Minutes before halftime, Cvitanich made his mark. After good touches by midfielder Urby Emanuelson, the striker fired in the ball after a series of dribbles and fakes.: 2-0. It was his first goal since December of 2008.
After halftime, Ajax were still the better team. Oleguer and captain Thomas Vermaelen nearly scored, before Suarez made an end to De Graafschap's last hopes. Suarez was brought down in the box by Léon Hese, took the penalty himself and scored: 3-0.
With youngsters Toby Alderweireld (for Oleguer) and Daley Blind (for Sulejmani) on the pitch, Ajax calmly played out the match and saved their strengths for Wednesday, when the Amsterdam side have to erase a 2-1 deficit against Olympique Marseille in the ArenA.