Ajax were again eliminated from the Champions League before it properly begins. After a 0-1 defeat in Amsterdam, Ajax also lost to Slavia in the return match in Prague: 2-1.
The signs were more than good. Granted, Ajax had lost at home to Slavia two weeks earlier, but had had enough chances in that match. And in the next two matches - against De Graafschap and sc Heerenveen - Ajax showed real killer instinct before the goal with 1-8 and 4-1 victories. There was real confidence in the team and reaching the Champions league seemed no pipe dream. But it went all wrong.
Slavia started well and it was only thanks to goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg that Slavia did not take an earlier lead. But that did not shock Ajax into waking up and the home side scored the first goal. Ajax could not get the ball away after a corner and Vlcek scored from close range: 1-0.
After that, Slavia withdrew and Ajax regained some momentum. John Heitinga passed to Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who back-heeled the ball to Luis Suárez. The South American forward proved his worth again and shot the ball past goalkeeper Vaniak.
Ajax pushed on for a second goal but had to wait until the 68th minute before a real chance was created: a header by Jaap Stam was saved by Vaniak. From that moment, with Dennis Rommedahl and Jan Vertonghen on for Kennedy and Urby Emanuelson, Ajax began to resemble the team that played so well in the last two league matches. There were great chances for Suárez (shot) and Huntelaar (header), but Vaniak kept on denying the forwards. With Ajax more and more on the attack the team gave away room for counter attacks. In the 86th minute Ajax lost the ball and Tavares touched it to Vlcek who scored again: 2-1.
It meant the end of Ajax's Champions league dreams. The side play UEFA Cup again. The draw is on Friday.