Ajax closed off the Amsterdam Tournament with a 3-2 loss to Benfica. A week before the start of the league, coach Martin Jol has some more information. Offensively his team is doing well, but Ajax have to do better defensively. ,,We gave up the goals too easily.”
Jol fielded a team against Benfica that was on many positions different than the match against Atletico Madrid two days earlier. Only Luis Suarez, Ismaïl Aissati, Jan Vertonghen and Urby Emanuelson were in the starting lineup again. The 'modified' team, with among others Kenneth Vermeer, Oleguer and Bruno Silva, faced a deficit after only eight minutes when Aissati scored an own goal. The midfielder wanted to play the ball to Vermeer but accidentally lobbed the ball over his own goalkeeper.
Obviously this was an accident, but it illustrated that Ajax gave away goals too easily during the Tournament. So too when Benfica made it 0-2. Angel Di Maria was left all alone, went on a counter attack and beat Vermeer. ,,We have to defend better”, Jol said. ,,More to the point, more solid. We conceded six goals in two games, and most of them were unnecessary.”
There were also positives for Ajax. Mitchell Donald played a good match in midfield. Jol ranked him under the 'pleasant surprises'. Donald also scored on Sunday. In the final minute of the first half, he combined with Suarez and struck with his left. ,,And that after he suffered a severe injury during last year's Tournament”, Jol said. ,,That is great for a young player like Mitchell. It also gives confidence and that is important.”
In the 55th minute, Benfica widened the gap again. Ajax could not clear the ball after a free kick and David Luiz made it 1-3 from close range. After Jol brought on Dario Cvitanich and Marvin Zeegelaar fot Miralem Sulejmani and Urby Emanuelson, Ajax regained the initiative. It led to a goal by Dennis Rommedahl in the 78th minute. The Dane scored from close range after a cross by Suarez.
With the draw against Atletico Madrid (3-3) and the close loss against Benfica, Ajax finished the Amsterdam Tournament in second place, behind the Portugese side. ,,I think we did well with our young team", Jol said. ,,We haveplayed against strong opponents and scored five times. That's not bad. There were some positive surprises this weekend, but also mistakes. And we have to get rid of them.”
Ajax begin the league with an aay match at FC Groningen next Sunday.