CL-efforts don't cost Ajax points

Ajax did in Breda exactly what they had to do, which is win three points. The reigning Dutch champions defeated NAC 3-0, through goals by Sneijder and Van der Meyde. Ronald Koeman was a happy coach: ,,Despite the busy schedule we came through damage-free.''

The match against AC Milan in the Champions League had taken its toll. Hatem Trabelsi, Tomás Galásek and Petri Pasanen, all regulars in Ajax's line up, were unable to play due to injuries sustained in the European match. To add to this, Van Damme and Akachar came injured out of a match with Ajax 2 earlier this week.

Yakubu replaced Pasanen in the centre of defence and with Nigel de Jong next to him as the team's right back. Wesley Sneijder played in midfield with Pienaar and Maxwell. Ibrahimovic and Van der Vaart were posted up front.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the first player to get a chance to open the score. The Swede received the ball on the edge of the post, turned away from his defender and struck. His effort lacked power, but not precision. The ball ended up on the post, denying Ajax a chance at an early lead.

After a little more than fifteen minutes Nigel de Jong was added to the injury list. The defender hurt his knee. He was replaced by Bergdølmo, who went to the centre. Yakubu moved to the right back position. Later, in the second half, Richard Witschge came on for Maxwell and Jari Litmanen replaced Zlatan. Both had been limping for a while.

After a good start Ajax had to watch how NAC put their defence under much pressure. But NAC's front line never managed to score. ,,That is our problem. We have no real strikers, only 'made' ones”, NAC coach Ten Cate explained the lack of firepower in his team.

Ajax had their troubles as well. ,,The transition to offence took too long. We were looking too deep, which made us go off-side too often”, Koeman said.

But at an important moment in the match - right before half time - Wesley Sneijder managed to score. Van der Meyde's corner kick found an unmarked Sneijder at the edge of the box. He had enough time to receive the ball and curl it past everybody toward the far corner.

NAC put up a great effort in the second half to try to come back. Koeman: ,,We had to backpaddle. NAC could have done some damage.” But, against the flow of the game, Andy van der Meyde made it 0-2 fifteen minutes before the end. Sneijder passed to the winger who accelerated, moved past 'keeper Babos and scored.

,,They have trouble scoring. And we have many players who can score, that's why we are difficult to defeat'', Koeman said. His colleague Ten Cate added: ,,Our goalkeeper Babos had four difficult shots, of which three became a goal. That was pretty sad.''

Andy van der Meyde made it worse for the home side with his second goal of the afternoon. Van der Vaart passes, Van der Meyde received and the winger scored from close range. It was his tenth goal of the season.