Disappointing end to 2007

Disappointing end to 2007

Ajax ended 2007 on a low note. The side got no further than 2-2 in the away match at VVV-Venlo. ,,Too many players stayed below their level'', a disappointed coach Adrie Koster said.

After his team had earned four points in four matches, Adrie Koster knew Ajax needed to win the last match of 2007. But instead of three points, Ajax got one. ,,We are disappointed with the result'', Koster said. ,,But we should not complain, because VVV had plenty of opportunities to do more damage today. I hoped that we could follow through on our performance against FC Twente, but we didn't do that at all. Too many players were below the level they reached Thursday.”

Ajax began with the same eleven that started on Thursday against Twente. That meant that Hedwiges Maduro, who returned from a suspension, was on the bench. But pretty soon he got his chance when he replaced the struggling Kennedy after 30 minutes. In fact, all Ajax players struggled in the first 30 minutes. VVV came close a few times through Nordin Amrabat and Jason Oost, but their efforts lacked precision and Maarten Stekelenburg defended his goal well.

After the substitution, Ajax got into the match a bit more. Luis Suarez gave his team the lead when he scored from a nice touch by Gabri in the 37th minute.
That goal did not have the desired effect, however. VVV went on the attack and in the 57th minute, the home team equalised through an incredible goal by Rachid Ofrany. He fired the ball from the halfway line over Stekelenburg into the back of the net. The goalkeeper was a bit outside his area after clearing a VVV-attack seconds earlier.

Both teams then had a chance for a second goal. The individual class of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, according to Koster a positive exception this afternoon, made sure that Ajax were the team to score again. The captain curled a free kick in the upper right corner.

Just as last Thursday against Twente, Ajax failed to hang on to their lead. When George Ogararu received his second yellow card a few minutes before the end, Ajax were down to ten players. Almost immediately, VVV-Venlo made it 2-2. Defender Mike Mampuya crossed from the right flank and Sandro Calabro headed it in. ,,Again we could not defend our lead'', Koster said. ,,When we were down to ten players, I knew it would be difficult. This is a real disappointment. I hope that we can use the players who are now injured after the winter break. Then it has to go better.”

Ajax finish 2007 as the number three in the league table. The side fly to Dubai on Friday for a tournament. On 13 january, the league schedule will be resumed with a home match against AZ.