Ajax solid in Utrecht
Ajax had surprisingly few problems with FC Utrecht. Three days after eliminating Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup, the team played a solid match in Utrecht: 0-2.
Ajax closed off a good week without damage. The normally difficult match at FC Utrecht gave Marco van Basten's team few problems this time. The early goal by Gregory van der Wiel did little to change the home side's attitude. Van der Wiel rushed forward and was given the ball by Miralem Sulejmani with a nice back-heel pass. The defender struck hard: 0-1.
,,We began the match a little differently than we had done the past two months’’, Marco van Basten said. The biggest change was the position of Micky Sulejmani. He played centre forward this time, flanked by Urby Emanuelson and Luis Suarez. ,,That worked well in the beginning, but after twenty minutes Utrecht increased the pressure. We had less possession but we were not vulnerable. The guys fought hard.’’
FC Utrecht had no answer for Ajax's game. Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer was tested only a few times, and he rose to the challenge when necessary. Ajax began the second half with Leonardo on for Emanuelson, to create some more offensive impulses. Later Vurnon Anita (for Eyong Enoh) and Kennedy (for Sulejmani) were brought on. The battle with Fiorentina had left its marks, Van Basten also recognised. ,,We were physically spent, that showed in the closing stages of the match. Some guys were on their last legs.’’
Jan Vertonghen doubled Ajax's lead after 63 minutes when he headed in a free kick by Sulejmani. Vertonghen did not finish the match. After a combination with Leonardo, he went down a painful look on his face. Ajax had to carry on with ten because Van Basten had used up all his substitutions. ,,Jan felt a muscle sort of cramping up’’, Van Basten said. ,,We don't know yet whether it is a tear, a sprain or just cramp.'' Ajax hope to learn more on Monday, when also it will become clearer how serious the injury of Gabri is. The midfielder, who went down in the match against Fiorentina, missed the game in Utrecht.
Despite being reduced to ten, Ajax had no problems with Utrecht in the closing stages. That was the good news of the afternoon for the tired Ajax squad.