Whole Ajax team shines in victory against Sparta

Whole Ajax team shines in victory against Sparta

Ajax defeated Sparta Rotterdam by 6-0 in a great collective effort. Klaas Jan Huntelaar again proved his value as a world-class striker with three goals and Nourdin Boukhari gave his team a comfortable 2-0 lead early in the match.

Ajax succeeded in their intention to attack Sparta early. The opponents were pushed back from the kickoff and the two early Boukhari goals put the home side on the road to a comfortable and big win.

After four minutes Boukhari escaped Sparta's offside trap and chipped the ball in over goalkeeper René Ponk. Nine minutes later, Mauro Rosales' corner kick found the head of Thomas Vermaelen. The steadfast Belgian defender headed it to the goal, where Boukhari gave th ball the last push with the back of his head: 2-0.

Before the first half came to an end, Klaas Jan Huntelaar showed his first flash of brilliance. The striker received a cross from Mauro Rosales and one-touched it past the Sparta goalkeeper. It was the first of his three goals on the afternoon, his second and Ajax's fifth being a sliding effort on a cross from markus Rosenberg and his third and Ajax's sixth coming from a beautiful free kick.

,,Klaas Jan's performance is worth a compliment'', said Ajax coach Danny Blind. ,,There has been some pressure on him from the outside. He has the qualities, the calmness and the realism to handle all that well. Markus Rosenberg also deserves praise for the way he played this afternoon.'' With two assists, the Swedish forward contributed greatly to the team's success.

There were more Ajax players to be praised. Such as Thomas Vermaelen, who headed in a Rosenberg cross to make it 4-0. And on one of those afternoons where everything went Ajax's way, even goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg had the chance to prove his worth. One of the very few things he had to do was to try and stop a penalty kick by Jason Oost. Stekelenburg saved the spot kick. ,,That way, Maarten also had his share in the 6-0 win'', said Huntelaar. The top goal scorer in Holland even had a part in his goalkeeper's moment of glory. With a hand gesture, Huntelaar predicted in which corner Oost would shoot. The lead therefore remained 6-0.

It only added to the joy of the good result that it was achieved with sparkling play. In the race for the playoffs, Ajax fared well with their fifth win in a row. An added bonus to the victory was the return of Steven Pienaar. The South African played his last match away at Vitese on 11 December 2005. After that, he spent three months on the sidelines with an ankle injury. Pienaar's return marked the striking development of Blind's squad. When the midfielder went down, Ajax were struggling. When he returned, he did that in a smoothly-performing collective.

,,We played well today'', said Blind. ,,It's nice that we win in an attractive way. The people in the stands have probably had a pleasant afternoon.'' The coach again saw that the right spirit has retuned in his team. Blind: ,,Just look at the other players' reactions after Maarten saved that penalty. The group has come together. The next series of matches will be a good test. Matches against PSV, Inter, Groningen and Roda JC are new and interesting challenges.''