Captain Rafael van der Vaart quickly made sure that Ajax would win the football Classic against Feyenoord (2-0). As his team's striker Van der Vaart showed no signs of rust after missing a number of matches because of suspensions and he scored twice in the first eleven minutes to sink Feyenoord's hopes in a hurry.
It was not the first time Van der Vaart shook off a long period of forced inactivity with a good game or a goal. Coach Ronald Koeman played him as a centre forward, thereby increasing his young captain's chances of scoring. ,,Both Ibrahimovic and Sonck were doubtful for this match, said Koeman. ,,Last season we did well with Van der Vaart up front. There he can totally focus on the goal and does not have to labour as much in midfield. That's why I played him there. Wesley Sonck, in his 200th professional match, started on the right wing. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, not completely fit, began the match as a reserve.
The move worked wonders in the 150th Classic. As eary as the fourth minute, Mitea crossed to Van der Vaart who brilliantly back-heeled the ball over himself and goalkeeper Lodewijks to make it 1-0. The crowd in the Amsterdam ArenA was as joyous as the goalscorer himself after his magical touch.
Seven minutes later Van der Vaart deflated Feyenoord's hopes when Kees van Wonderen and goalkeeper Patrick Lodewijks completely misread each other's moves and gave the Ajax player an unmissable opportunity to put the ball in the empty goal: 2-0.
The match had been decided but Ajax failed to illustrate the difference between the two teams with more goals. Defensively the home side was very solid, however, and Feyenoord rarely had a chance to threaten goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont. Feyenoord suffered another setback when Robin van Persie shot the ball against his teammate Shinji Ono. The Japanese international was hit in the liver and had to leave the pitch on a stretcher.
Ajax dominated in the second half. When Ibrahimovic replaced Sonck after an hour, the Amsterdam team created a series of good opportunities, but Lodewijks would not be beaten a third time. Ajax's last line, where Zdenek Grygera excelled, made sure Feyenoord could not come closer.
Ajax, who lead the league, are now ten points ahead of rivals Feyenoord in the table. Number two PSV are four points behind Ajax.