Ajax, already certain of the next round of the Champions League when it continues in 2006, have drawn 0-0 with Arsenal in the final group match. In what was perhaps Ajax's final match at Highbury, coach Danny Blind saw his team give a good collective effort. Because the bigger chances were for the home team, Ajax could not complain about the 0-0 draw.
Ajax began strong in Londen, pushing The Gunners back into their defence. But really big chances were not created and soon Arsenal began to get more grip on the match. That was also due to the fact that within the first 30 minutes, Zdenek Grygera and Hedwiges Maduro (fouled by the ruthless Aleksandr Hleb) had to be taken off with injuries. Grygera suffered a concussion, Maduro an ankle injury.
Arsenal had their chances in the first half. Thiery Henry was dangerous as usual and there were opportunities for José Antonio Reyes, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Mathieu Flamini.
A handful of seconds after Wesley Sneijder just missed a cross by Hatem Trabelsi, who came on for Grygera, Tomás Galásek caused a penalty kick for Arsenal when he brought down Reyes. To the relief of Ajax and their supporters on the South Stand, Henry shot the spot kick wide.
After the intermission, the teams seemed to playing chess with each other. Wesley Sneijder came close with a free kick and Nigel de Jong, who had replaced Maduro, saw his effort going just wide. Robin van Persie spiced up the second half with some good rushes. But in the end, there were no goals. It was for the first time in 21 European matches that Arsenal had not scored.
,,Ajax gave a good team effort'', said Danny Blind at the press conference. ,,We were well organised and we showed the proper spirit. But we did not create enough chances. It went well until we got to the box, then we lacked power and finesse. However, I am satisfied with our performance. We played as a team and we fought to the last minute.''
The Ajax boss said to be disappointed about Nigel de Jong's decision to leave the club at the end of the season. ,,We would have liked to keep Nigel. He is from our own youth program, a real Ajax player. He can and will get even better. He could have become one of the central figures of Ajax. We have to respect his choice, however. We think it's a shame, but we have to move on.''