Anastasiou's revenge

He had had a tough time against his old club Roda JC, but his revenge on his defenders was sweet. For ninety minutes Boldizsar Bodor and Mark Luijpers were pulling, grabbing and hanging on to Yannis Anastasiou, but in the 89th minute the Ajax striker scored. ,,It had to be Yannis of all people", Roda's coach Wiljan Vloet mourned after the 1-0 loss. ,,You don't think of a scenario like this," Ronald Koeman said.

But Koeman had already hoped on that little bit extra of his Greek striker before the match. He picked Yannis Anastasiou before Wesley Sonck in the starting line up. ,,It is known that Wesley Sonck is having trouble and is playing 'against himself' . Yannis is not one of the younger players out there and he needs rhythm and matches. I thought he might be extra sharp against his former team.''

His hopes came true, although everybody in the Amsterdam ArenA had to wait for an awfully long time. Yet Ajax could and should have taken an early lead against a static Roda JC, who hardly made use of their quality front line with Sergio, Cristiano and Arouna Koné. ,,It was all Ajax in the first half”, Koeman said. ,,We just neglected to score three or four goals. Our offence was good, but our last pass was often not good enough. We created the chances, though.''

Vloet did not like what he saw in the first half hour and took off Sven Vandenbroeck and brought on Ivan Vicelich. ,,We were very vulnerable'', spoke the Roda boss. ,,I had to change the organisation.'' Vloet let his men play one on one. ,,We should have done more with that'', Koeman said.

In the second half the guests, for whom Koné played well but was also guarded well by Johnny Heitinga, took more initiative with a number of chances as the result. Ajax seemed glued to the pitch. ,,Our midfielders wanted to have the ball in their feet too much'', Koeman explained. Therefore he brought on Wesley Sonck for captain Rafael van der Vaart after first substituting Mauro Rosales for Tom de Mul and Nicolae Mitea for Nourdin Boukhari. ,,I wanted a fresh player behind Yannis”, said the coach.

Ajax appeared to head for a goalless draw. But when all hope seemed lost, Yannis Anastasiou dealt with his former colleagues. The striker took the ball on the edge of the box and, with pin-point precision, shot it in the corner past goalkeeper Kujovic. ,,You don't think of such a scenario”, said the winning coach. ,,And I wouldn't say we did not deserve to win.''