Ajax defeated NEC in a spectacular match in Nijmegen: 2-4. Defenders Rob Wielaert and Toby Alderweireld both made their debut in the first match of the second half of the season.
With a big smile on his face, Marco van Basten went onto the pitch after the match to congratulate all of his players. The victory against NEC was deserved, but hard-fought, escpecially after Dario Cvitanich had been sent off with the score 2-2. ,,After halftime it became really spectacular”, the coach said. ,,I have to compliment the team for their fighting spirit and their mentality.” Rob Wielaert, who played his first match for Ajax, also praised his team for the fight it put up. ,,Ajax have shown that they can really battle it out. This is a great team effort. We worked very hard for the three points.” Marco van Basten let Wielaert make his debut for Ajax in the Goffert stadium. The new signing replaced Oleguer, who missed the match with back problems, as a central defender. ,,I still am getting to used to everything, and even shouted out 'Twente' a few times. But we have another week to train with and get used to each other.” Robbert Schilder replaced the injured Thomas Vermaelen as left back. Next to Wielaert and Schilder, Gregory van der Wiel and Jan Vertonghen were in defence. The midfield was formed by Eyong Enoh, Gabri and Miralem Sulejmani. Urby Emanuelson, Dario Cvitanich and Luis Suarez played up front. A finally healthy Maarten Stekelenburg was on goal and he wore the captian's band. Ajax had the initiative in the first half, but had to be careful of the counter attacks and the dead-ball moments of NEC. Patrick Pothuizen headed the ball in from a corner, but Emanuelson cleared it off the line. Ajax answered through Luis Suarez, who fired a free kick onto the post. But it was not until the second half that the match became really spectacular. Micky Sulejmani played a big part. The Serbian struck from a free kick with his left from the right side of the pitch. NEC came back through a goal by Ramon Zomer, who headed in a free kick by Lasse Schöne. Ajax took the lead again in the 55th minute, with again Sulejmani scoring. Gregory van der Wiel crossed from the right, Cvitanich and Suarez provided the distraction and Sulejmani struck from close range. NEC equalised again in the 68th minute. The home side took a quick free kick, Youssef El Akchaoui found the space and fired the ball past Stekelenburg. When Cvitanich picked up his second yellow card not much later, things seemed bleak for Ajax. But despite being reduced to ten, Ajax took the lead for the third time. Dani Fernandez headed a free kick by Sulejmani into his own goal. Van Basten brought an extra defender in Toby Alderweireld, giving the young Belgian his debut in Ajax 1. Alderweireld did a good job in the remainder of the game. ,,I did not expect to play today'', Alderweireld said. ,,But when we went up 3-2, I had to go on very quickly. There was no time to be nervous. We played hard and won the three points. NEC are a good team and they are not easy to beat.'' Ajax widened the margin in the final minute. Gabri won the ball, passed to Suarez, ran forward and got the ball back. With a subtle lob he beat Babos: 2-4. Ajax remain in second place in the league table. Next week the side play away at FC Groningen.