Happy Sunday after all for Ajax

In the end, the 22nd round in the Dutch league turned out to be a positive one for Ajax. The team from Amsterdam defeated FC Den Bosch 2-0 and the closest rivals for second place, AZ, drew with Roda JC and thus lost two points. The difference between the two sides is now four points in favour of AZ, who come to Amsterdam in two weeks' time.

Julien Escudé was chosen man of the match. That was manly due to the fact that for technical reasons, voting ends five minutes before the end of the match. Until then, the central defender had been involved in almost all dangerous moments before the FC Den Bosch goal, where goalkeeper Kris Mampaey was fighting like a lion for his team. But if the selection for the man of the match had come after the final whistle, Daniël de Ridder would have had the biggest chance to get elected. The substitute won the match for Ajax..

And it was not easy. FC Den Bosch, number 18 in the league table, chose not to try and make it an attractive match, but treid to get away from Amsterdam with a point. With eleven men on their own half, they drew up a blue wall. ,,It was extreme, that there was so little space from the beginning'', said coach Ronald Koeman. ,,But I understand, they need the points. I think the fans underestimate how difficult it is for Ajax to play against that. If you start booing after ten minutes when the the opponent comes onto your half once, you don't understand the game. I understand such a reaction when the players don't do anything about it, but today they gave it their all.''

Only occasionally, the one-way traffic was interrupted by a counter attack by FC Den Bosch, but in those instances Maarten Stekelenburg was in the right place. On the other side, Kris Mampaey excelled. He was in the way during attempts by Mauro Rosales, Rafael van der Vaart and Anthony Obodai. He should have shown his ability to save a penalty, but referee Jack van Hulten failed to punish a foul on midfielder Rasmus Lindgren.

But even without the spot kick, Ajax had the upper hand, without any one player standing out for the team. Only after Koeman had brought on Ryan Babel, Daniël de Ridder and Yannis Anastasiou for Obodai, Charisteas and Lindgren, Den Bosch's defence started to show cracks. It did not surprise Koeman that Ajax scored twice in added time. ,,It would have been unbelievable if we would not have won.” Daniël de Ridder played a part in both goals. First he volleyed the ball under Mampaey after Anastasiou had headed it back to him (1-0) and a minute later De Ridder released a sharp cross. The ball went too fast for Babel but Nourdin Boukhari had gone through on the left and he made it 2-0. ,,Let's just be happy'', Koeman said. ,,We win, AZ draw, so we gained on them.''